In a February 2008 blog entry, I mentioned that a bill came before the Minnesota Legislature to enact a presumption in favor of joint physical custody in Minnesota family courts. The legislative committee referred the bill to a study group, whose charge was to consider the prospect of a joint physical custody presumption.
The study group has issued its report with six non-comprehensive, non-unanimous recommendations. The study group has recommended that the Legislature do the following:
1. Fund the collection of data regarding custody arrangements and parenting plans over several years;
2. Promote cooperative agreements in future custody and parenting legislation;
3. Continue to provide the family court the ability to consider individual needs of children and families in making custody and parenting decisions;
4. Consider the essential importance of the safety of children and parents;
5. Amend current statutes to make it clear that there is no presumption for or against joint physical custody (except for the rebuttable presumption against joint physical custody in cases involving domestic abuse); and
6. If there were a presumption of joint physical custody in the future, that the term be clearly defined, and its relationship to the determination of parenting time also be clearly defined.
While the study group worked under time limitations that precluded more comprehensive recommendations, the conclusions reached by the study group reflect thorough consideration of the issue.
If 2 people are separated and agreed in discussions to have joint physical custody, is there any legal form that could be signed by both parties that would legally bind the two parties until all of the divorce proceedings have completed?
This would legally prevent them from changing their minds and could not be overturned in court.
Both research and the views of the children in divorce point to a presumption in favour of joint physical custody.
The study group’s recommendations simply delayed the inevitable.