When the statutory factors to be considered in child custody cases were revised by the Minnesota Legislature earlier this year, the substance of the changes did not appear to be significant. It is interesting to consider, though, how the revised factors have changed the philosophy underlying custody determinations. I heard a local custody professional discuss how it is not the child’s job to “accommodate” his or her parent’s divorce; it is the parents’ job to accommodate the child’s best interests.
That is to say, in the past, the parents were the focus, since the case regarded what rights each parent had to custody and parenting time. Nowadays, the focus is on the child, and how to serve the child’s best interests, notwithstanding what will serve the parent’s interests. This approach contemplates that a parent’s interest will be (or should be) served indirectly by serving the child’s interests.