DIVORCE AND PARENTING TIME IN MN
There’s a bill on MN Governor Dayton’s desk that would create a presumption that all parents are entitled to at least 35% parenting time with their children. NEW PARENTING TIME LAW
SCHEDULES AND THE CHILDREN OF DIVORCED PARENTS
While I agree that all children deserve to see both parents at often as possible, parents’ work schedules and children’s school and activity schedules often make it difficult to carve out such a specific percentage in such a way that does not affect the best interests of the children. I am concerned that custody cases will become more difficult for parents and children under this bill, as lawyers and judges look for ways to reach the 35% custodial presumption.
HIGH CONFLICT DIVORCES MAKE 50 /50 PHYSICAL CUSTODY MORE PROBLEMATIC
Difficult cases may be made harder, as parents will look to reasons to defeat the presumption such as claiming that the other parent is unfit instead of looking at the best interests of their children in an effort to short circuit the calendar battle. While similar arguments were made when the law that provided that each parent is presumed an entitlement to at least 25% custody, in my caseload at least, I have rarely had a case in which the parties could not agree upon at least 25% custody where there were no allegations of domestic abuse. I have had many cases where parties had a difficult time carving out agreements which give parents between 30-45% custody.
50 / 50 CHILD CUSTODY USUALLY DOES NOT WORK
Perhaps my biggest concern is that this bill is actually an attempt to make it easier to provide a presumption in favor of 50/50 custody in future legislation. In most of my cases, 50/50 parenting time is absolutely unworkable because of the distance between the parties’ homes, the parties’ work schedules, the lack of good communication between parents, and the needs of the children to maintain a consistent home during the school year.
When parties do agree on such a schedule, they usually agree to live in the same school district and have an extraordinarily cooperative co-parenting relationship. The children are usually in at least second or third grade, or the parents have been separated for a long time and using a 50/50 arrangement so long that they are used to it.