Gov. Mark Dayton Vetoed Kids

A powerful Op Ed in the Strib reiterates what I’ve been writing here about the governor’s veto of the Shared Parenting Bill: He was swayed by a small group of wealthy, powerful lawyers — lawyers who have a lot to gain by the standing law that forces judges to pick winners and losers. It’s really unconscionable what Dayton did.

In vetoing the bill that would have increased the minimum presumption of shared parenting following a divorce from 25 percent of the time to 35 percent (unless the court found a reason to restrict access), Gov. Mark Dayton may have been swayed by misinformation.

It’s extremely unfortunate that such an important bill, thoroughly researched and carefully analyzed for so many years, and so strongly supported by the majority of citizens in this state, could be obliterated by the stroke of a pen. The heavy lobbying and inside relationships of special-interest attorneys won out over the cries of children and the persistence of the parents. Citizens seeking justice through the courts have been told by judges to talk to the Legislature to change the law. The people did speak through their legislators, and the bipartisan bill passed 132-61.

There is mass public outcry for family court reform. Legislators often say they have persistently and consistently heard more complaints about family court than just about any other issue.

The current presumption of 25 percent parenting time reflects a glorified every-other-weekend and holiday schedule, with an extended summer vacation.

Current law requires a judge to pick one winner parent and one loser parent. This creates conflict.

Read the rest: Kids in the balance | StarTribune.com.

What’s Happening in Marriage and Divorce?

Mark Regenerus looks at the number:

First, the sheer number of new marriages (i.e., weddings) has generally been decreasing, even while the population of the US continues to increase. For example, in the year 2000 there were 2.32 million new marriages in a population of 281 million persons. In 2010, however, there were 2.1 million new marriages, despite a growing population of 309 million persons.

Ergo, marriage is in retreat (and more so among the poor and working class, as data noted below will suggest), a slight uptick in 2010 notwithstanding.

read the rest: Good News and Bad News in Marriage and Divorce Statistics.

Update: Minnesota Governor Sides with the Lawyers (and Against Dads)

Minnesota Governor did the WRONG thing when he vetoed the Shared Custody Bill.

A while ago, I wrote about a bill making its way through the Minnesota legislature. At first, the bill was going to take the presumption of parenting in cases of divorce from 75%-25% to 45%-45%, with the remaining 10% to be worked out by the divorcing parties. Effectively, that means that dads would go from 25% to 45%.

In committee, the bill was gutted, merely raising the 25% that goes to dads to 35%, but it finally got out of committee, to the floors of the House and Senate, and passed both houses.

Yesterday, Governor Mark Dayton — a divorced father himself — sided with the divorce industry and vetoed the bill, defying the will of the people of the state and of our representatives. Yet he thought it wise to spend a bunch of his political capital embarrassingly cheerleading for public funds to build a billion-dollar Taj Mahal for the NFL.

In his explanation letter, he even admits to being swayed by lobbyists, rather than listening to the citizens of the state:

[Read more...]

Custody Laws: Our Government in (In)Action

My testimony in front of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee of the Minnesota Senate (photo by Courtney Perry/All Rights Reserved)

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?

[Read more...]


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