Last month, I testified in front of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee of the Minnesota Senate. I spoke in favor of Bill 1402, which aims to bring presumed equality to shared parenting time in divorced families. Currently, the presumption in Minnesota — that is, the guidelines that are recommended for family court judges to follow — is that one parent gets the majority (75%) of parenting time, and the other parent gets the rest. As you might guess, the 75% almost always goes to the mother. (I won’t comment on my own custody arrangement; negotiations are ongoing.)
This bill has been bouncing around the Capitol for over a decade. One intrepid woman, Molly Olson, has kept the bill alive. She — and I — believe that it is in the best interests of children that the default presumption should be 50-50. The bill makes all sorts of exceptions, for unfit parents and other extenuating circumstances.
By the time I testified, the bill had basically been gutted. The percentage was dropped from 50% to 35%. Nevertheless, I testified that the Court system has habituated a outdated notion that mothers are always better to be the primary parent than fathers. I argued that when the judicial branch of our government is too habituated in certain patterns, the legislative branch needs to step in and set things right.
I acknowledged that it’s odd for a white man to be claiming discrimination. Even so, that’s what this is.
But here’s the funny thing: Democrats are unanimously against this bill, and Republicans are for it. You know who else is against it?