Like every other state, Minnesota makes the children’s best interests the top priority in all child custody matters. Most parents agree that this puts the focus on the right thing, but they often disagree about just what their children’s “best interests” really are. Does it mean having a stable home with one parent and brief, regular visits with the other? Or does it mean spending equal time at each parent’s home?
The law currently does not presume that a child custody order should split custody 50/50, but many Minnesota parents believe it should. A lawsuit recently filed by a divorced father argues that he has a constitutional right to equal parenting time with his ex-wife.
Roots of the lawsuit and how custody disputes are currently resolved
Specifically, the lawsuit claims that the current system violated the man’s 14th Amendment right to due process. The due process clause guarantees everyone’s right to a standard legal process. The man says that the lack of presumption of equal custody placed the burden of proof on him to show that it was in his children’s best interest, which he believes violated his due process rights.
When parents cannot negotiate an acceptable child custody arrangement, state law requires the family court judge to decide on a plan based on 12 factors. These factors include things like the history of each parent’s caregiving of the child; the child’s education; their relationship with other relatives and friends; and whether either parent has a history of domestic violence.
In divorce, few matters end up being decided by a judge, even emotional subjects like child custody. Help from an experienced divorce attorney can greatly improve your chances of negotiating a fair and sustainable custody plan.