A local firefighter running for office in Duluth, Minnesota has been accused of abandoning one of his daughters 18 years ago. The woman, now 20 and a student at the University of Minnesota in Duluth, spoke to reporters earlier this week about her relationship with her father.
The woman said that it has been difficult not to have a relationship with him, and that she feels she was abandoned. The candidate has remarried and has two other daughters whom he lives with in Duluth.
The candidate says that he did not abandon her and that he did continue to pay child support per their agreement, but that he thought it was in everyone's best interest not to try to co-parent with his ex-wife.
This story brings up a lot of issues that are common to many Minnesota families, especially the question of how we interpret the obligations in divorce and child custody agreements. In this case, it seems that the custody agreement left room for significant interpretation between the parties and that the evolution of their relationship after the divorce changed the way that they chose to enact the agreement.
Co-parenting can be a difficult task for any separated or divorced couple, especially those with very young children. Co-parenting during a contentious divorce can add to the stress of caring for a toddler, which could be a major factor in some parents choose to step back from their previously agreed upon rights.
There isn't a lot of information available as to why the candidate decided to stop exercising his visitation rights, except his assertion that the relationship with the girl's mother was too difficult. Her mother says that there was no serious issue between them and that he simply stopped showing up on the days that he was assigned custody.
More information about child support agreements in Minnesota can be found on our family law website.
Source: Duluth News Tribune, "Daughter of Minnesota House candidate says he abandoned her," Brandon Stahl, Sept. 5, 2012.