With all of the billionaire-pork-bill signing and job-creation-bill-vetoing of the last week of the legislative session, there is one curious omission,.
It’s HF 322, the bill to change Minnesota’s family court laws to provide a rebuttable presumption of joint physical custody in divorce cases.
That means that unless there is a clear, compelling reason not to – substance abuse, criminal record, gross inability to raise kids, record of abuse and so on – that the parents will be presumed competent to share custody of the children.
That is as opposed to the current system, where the presumption is that full custody will be awarded to the parent that ticks off the greatest number of evaluation criteria from a list of about a dozen that judges use; whichever parent “wins” the most of those criteria “wins” physical custody, and child support, and the whole nine yards.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you’ll know it’s been a hot button topic of mine forever. Raising kids is hard enough with a functional family. The number of social ills that trace back to the huge number of single-parent households is absolutely overwhelming.
The bill was presented to the Governor on May 11, with plenty of bipartisan support.
And it’s still sitting on his desk.
Of course, two key DFL constituencies – radical feminists and lawyers – oppose the bill. The feminists dislike the loss of child support money and the fact that joint custody puts a legal hurdle over women taking “their” children and going anywhere they want to go regardless of the kids’ relationship to a father they deem unnecessary and seemingly (to look at their rhetoric on the issue) presume to be a drunk abuser anyway.
The lawyers’ line is “if a couple can’t agree on enough to stay married, how are they going to agree on raising kids together”. But the current system deliberately introduces the stress of a winner-takes-all system into the dissolution of the relationship – the prospect of “losing” ones’ children – which heaps piles of emotional stress (and the billable hours they bring!) onto an already awful situation. Lawyers oppose the presumption of joint physical custody because it trims down the cash cow of divorce.
Why won’t the governor sign this bill?