A bill that is garnering increasing attention in the Minnesota state legislature intends to boost from current “minimum 25% presumption of joint custody” to “minimum 45% presumption of joint custody”.

At public hearings, many a father has shared their painful experiences of being shut out of meaningful relationships with their children by their ex-wives and ex-girlfriends, who do so with the full backing and force of the family court system. It’s a family court system that is not unlike so many others throughout the United States of America, where even a father who is ready, willing, fit, and able to be a parent for an equal amount of time as any mother – are overwhelmingly denied that right in favor of the mother. Often, this is done without any explanation at all, let alone a reasonably acceptable one.

An except from the Politics In Minnesota Blog article:

Debates over child custody rules are nothing new at the Legislature. Much of the discussion is rooted in a belief among some advocates that men repeatedly receive unfair treatment in custody cases. In 2006, legislation was passed changing the presumptive custody portion to a minimum of 25 percent. Last year Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul, introduced legislation that would have set joint physical custody as the presumptive standard, with each parent permitted at least 40 percent guardianship. But the bill never made it out of committee.

The most recent iteration of this joint child custody bill as introduced by Representative Peggy Scott (R), requires parents share child custody equally.  Equal child custody for the purposes of this bill means “at least 45% parenting time.”  This is a rebuttable presumption of equal custody and family courts may only deviate from this mandate provided there is “clear and convincing evidence” that a child would be in imminent harm if placed in a particular parent’s care.

It is our hope that the bill also contains language similar to the recent passe Pennsylvania child custody law that also requires that family court judges state (or otherwise document) in the official record their reasons/justifications for denying joint custody as prescribed by the new law.

It is without question that children benefit from the maximum involvement of both parents in their lives.  It’s especially important after a marriage or relationship fails and both parents are fit, willing, and it’s logistically feasible.  The risk of negative outcomes for children with limited or no relationship with their fathers are serious and numerous.  Countless studies have demonstrated this and support the contention that maximum parental contact post-divorce is critical to maximizing positive future outcomes for the children.

The bill has 12 co-authors.  Click the link above for more details and information.  Please call your state legislators and urge them to support the bill in Minnesota for a presumption of equal child custody.  The children deserve it.