Skip to main content

Should Shared Parenting be Presumptive?

The Minnesota House recently passed a shared parenting bill which has a presumption of at least 45.1% of the parenting time with each parent.  This presumption can be overcome by certain factors.  Attorney Robert Franklin has written an editorial supporting the bill and calling on the Senate and Governor to pass it as well.

A similar movement has been trying to get presumptions of shared physical custody passed in Massachusetts, and we reviewed these proposals in our series on Custody Reform.

Custody Reform should be based on evidence about what defaults are in the best interest of children. There is evidence of a shift in our society to greater parenting involvement of fathers, but the available evidence is still strongly in favor of very young children spending more time with their mother. Frequent contact with both parents is necessary at a very young age, but equal time doesn't take into account the realities of the unusual feeding and sleeping schedule that newborns have (especially if the mother is breast-feeding).

Mr. Franklin indicates that breast-feeding can be worked around through pumping and storage as mother's who work often do.  However, this ignores part of the benefit of breast-feeding which is bonding with the mother.  This comment also ignores the immense pressure put on mothers of newborns.  Because of the need for newborns to have constant contact with both parents to form a bond with them, an equal parenting plan at this age would involve almost daily transitions.  Mr. Franklin expects these mothers to work, pump every two to three hours and accommodate multiple parenting transitions.  I'm not sure when he expects them to sleep?

I am in favor of recognizing the societal shift in parenting duties through greater presumptions for shared physical custody. However, there should also be some indication that this presumption does not mean equal time for children whose age would not favor equal time. I would suggest some tempering of the shared physical custody presumption to recognize the different needs of children at different ages.  The Shared Parenting brochure and the Model Parenting Plans provided by the Massachusetts courts both recognize this need to adjust the schedule and division of time as the child grows older.

Maybe the time has come to change the presumptions, but that doesn't mean we have to force those presumptions to fit every situation.  Presumptions of shared parenting with children of certain ages makes sense, but with children who are very young or who have special needs there needs to be consideration of how those factors affect their needs.

For more information check out these resources:

Parenting Plan Worksheet - Use this worksheet to help compare potential or proposed Parenting Plans on a user-friendly calendar.


Child Custody Mediation
Collaborative Child Custody Resolution
Child Custody Litigation


Comments

  1. I've read a ton about Minnesota's situation. It's difficult to make these types of laws because every circumstance is so different. Has definitely brought about dissension. I think this decision needs MUCH more examination, personally.

    Thanks for the post

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

What is the purpose of the Divorce Nisi waiting period?

In Massachusetts the statutory waiting period after a Judgment of Divorce and before the divorce becomes final (or absolute) is called the Nisi period. After a divorce case settles or goes to trial, a Judgment of Divorce Nisi will issue and it will become Absolute after a further ninety (90) days. This waiting period serves the purpose of allowing parties to change their mind before the divorce becomes final. If the Judgment of Divorce Nisi has issued but not become final yet, and you and your spouse decide you don't want to get divorced, then you can file a Motion to Dismiss and the Judgment will be undone. Although many of my clients who are getting divorced think the idea of getting back together with their ex sounds crazy, I have had cases where this happened. In addition to offering a grace period to change your mind, the Nisi period has three other legal effects: 1. The most obvious effect of the waiting period is that you cannot remarry during the Nisi period, be

Does a Criminal Record affect Child Custody?

If one of the parents in a custody case has a criminal record, the types of crimes on their record could have an effect on their chances of obtaining custody. In custody cases the issue is always going to come down to whether or not the best interests of the child might be affected. In the most extreme case, in which one parent has been convicted of first degree murder of the other parent, the law specifically prohibits visitation with the children until they are of a suitable age to assent. Similarly, but to a less serious degree, in making custody and visitation determinations the court will consider crimes that would cause one to question the fitness of a parent. These types of crimes would obviously include any violent crime convictions which could call into question whether the children would be in danger around a parent who has shown themselves to resort to violence when faced with conflict. In addition, drug and alcohol abuse offenses would call into question a parent&#

What happens after my Divorce Agreement is approved by a Judge?

If you filed a Joint Petition for Divorce in Massachusetts then you will participate in an uncontested divorce hearing and the Judge will then issue Findings of Fact the day of the hearing.  A Judgment of Divorce Nisi will issue after thirty (30) days, and it will become Absolute after a further ninety (90) days. This means that if you file a Joint Petition for Divorce you are not legally and officially divorced until 120 days after the divorce hearing date. If you filed a Complaint for Divorce  then your case will end either with a trial (if you don't settle) or an uncontested divorce hearing (if you settle).  If you reach an Agreement, then a Judgment of Divorce Nisi will issue and be effective as of the date of the uncontested divorce hearing, and it will become Absolute after a further ninety (90) days. This means that if you file a Complaint for Divorce you are not legally and officially divorced until 90 days after the divorce hearing date. Therefore, for 90 - 120 day