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Bill to update law around family court proceedings about ‘what’s best for the kids’

(House Photography file photo)
(House Photography file photo)

Corporations have mission statements defining its business, objectives, and how it will reach those goals.

The state may create something like a mission statement to guide family law courts as they adjudicate cases, such as determining child custody between divorcing parents.

The House passed HF3204, as amended, by a 129-0 vote Wednesday, sending it to the Senate.

Rep. Kelly Moller (DFL-Shoreview) said the bill she sponsors would make a plethora of updates to statutes related to custody and parenting time.

Minnesota House passes bill to update custody, parenting time statutes, HF3204 4/24/24

“Ultimately, the overall goal of this legislation is to keep a focus on what’s best for the kids and to reduce situations where they are caught in the middle of prolonged conflict between their parents,” she said.

The bill language includes the statement: “The public policy of the state is to: ensure that each child has frequent and substantial contact with the child’s parents, as long as the child’s parents have shown the ability to act in the best interests of the child; ensure that parents and caregivers provide a safe and nurturing environment for each child; and encourage parents to share the rights and duties of raising their child.”

Moller touted a provision that’d stipulate when a parent has been denied access to a child for two weeks or more, or cut off from financial resources during a divorce, courts would be required to give top priority to holding a hearing in these cases and must do so within 30 days.

“This will allow these common sources of conflict to be addressed more quickly rather than fester and create more tension between the parties and for the child,” Moller said.

“It holds both parents accountable,” said Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover).

Other provisions in the bill would:

  • prohibit courts, when determining child custody, to prefer one parent over the other solely based on the parent’s gender;
  • allow a parent who sues for relief when they have been denied parenting time to get attorney fees and costs;
  • add mental health and safety to list of considerations for the court when determining parenting time; and
  • require courts to order compensatory parenting time to one parent when a child was intentionally kept from visits by the other parent.

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