Equal parenting time proposed as the norm


Entitled the Children’s Equal and Shared Parenting Act, HF322 has a goal to equalize the amount of time a child has with both parents, and specifically addresses situations when a child is born outside of marriage.

The bill was earlier laid over by the House Civil Law Committee for more work; and on April 11, a delete-all amendment was approved by the committee and the bill was sent  to the House Judiciary Policy and Finance Committee. But some members say that it still needs revisions.

Sponsored by Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover), the bill would change current law where a parent is entitled to receive at least 25 percent of parenting time, to a presumption of joint legal and joint physical custody with a minimum of 45.1 percent of parenting time for each parent. The provisions would be extended to parents who are not married, but where parentage has been established. The bill has no Senate companion.

The amended version spells out more clearly the conditions that need to be met by a parent wishing to challenge the presumption with clear and convincing evidence, including: abandonment, physical or sexual abuse, neglect and domestic violence.

The new language also addresses an exception to parenting time when geographic locations of the parents would prevent them from keeping the child in one school during a school year.

But Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) raised concerns about this bill’s possible effect on child support.

Molly Olson, founder of the Center for Parental Responsibility, said the intent of the bill is to only address parenting time.

However, Michael Dittberner, legislative chair of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, said that until a few years ago, custody and child support were linked. He said the proposed 45-plus percent parenting time could change the new child support formulas. “I think there was an intent to effect child support.”