The Associated Press recently wrote an article highlighting a movement that has been popping up in various states, including our own Minnesota, which is to increase the presumption of time each parent has with their child.
Presumption of Parenting Time
It may come as a surprise but if you get divorced or have a child out of wedlock with a person, there is a presumption in Minnesota that one parent will have at least 25% of the parenting time (with the other having, obviously 75%). Side note: a presumption under the law is a term of art, that means it is not just a word that can be interchanged with other words, but is a precise legal definition, which is the Judge will look at a case assuming that one party will get at least 25% of parenting time unless it can be proven that it is not the best interest of the child not to be with that parent that amount of time. In which case we call that rebutting the presumption.
Last year in Minnesota this movement was started (at least it was the first I heard about it) by trying to increase the presumption to at least 35%. The measure passed the MN house and MN senate but was vetoed by Governor Dayton. The MN State Bar Association took the position to oppose it, but that’s not to say many family lawyers didn’t support it. You can Imagine the heated debate us lawyers got into over that.
Good or bad for the kids?
Is it good or bad for children? I’ve no idea. I’m a divorce lawyer not a child psychologist. but what I do know is that depending in who my client is I can find a psychologist to say that a true 50-50 split is good or bad for the kids! It’s not settled by a long shot what the impact of various percentages of parenting time. NOTE: whenever I do a post on what is loosely catagoized as father’s rights I tend to get pretty heated emails on both sides, so before you send me a few studies sporting you position, I will say that I am nuetral on tis topic, because I have to be. I represent both mothers and fathers and I don’t have horse in this race.
Is it just about the money?
One argument is that the increase of time for one parent ( typically dads) is done primarily for financial reasons, usually to decrease what dad pays. Obvious, every case is very unique, but I can tell you that after being a divorce lawyer for 13 years now, when I hear dad say ” I want 50-50 and its not about the money” we’ll, it’s almost always about the money. I don’t blame the dads, heck if I got divorced I would certainly not enjoy paying child support! But, as th saying goes a few bad apples spoil the barrel is never more true than here.
When we go to court and the father talks about 50-50 and equal parenting time, many times you can see the judges eyes roll. Why? Because the Judge has no doubt seen this many times before, where dad gets 50-50 custody and then pawns the kids off on grandma, grandpa, daycare, girlfriend or sitters. Unfortunately, it’s just very common these days and I think most judges who have been on the bench for awhile get a little skeptical when they hear fathers talk about equal time.
Ok, so what does that mean to you, as a person going through this? Or hoping to modify custody? Well, not a lot. Typically when the law changes it is not necessarily retroactive in the sense that you could bring a motion and ask for an additional 10% of time. A good example of this was the big change in child support laws which were 1) gradually phased in over two years and 2) a person could not change child support based solely on is new law.
Rosengren Kohlmeyer, Law Office Chtd.