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HF 2603

as introduced - 90th Legislature (2017 - 2018) Posted on 06/21/2017 11:01am

KEY: stricken = removed, old language. underscored = added, new language.

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A bill for an act
relating to family law; modifying application of best interest standards; amending
Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 518.17, subdivision 1.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1.

Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 518.17, subdivision 1, is amended to read:


Subdivision 1.

Best interests of the child.

(a) In evaluating the best interests of the child
for purposes of determining issues of custody and parenting time, the court must consider
and evaluate all relevant factors, including:

(1) a child's physical, emotional, cultural, spiritual, and other needs, and the effect of
the proposed arrangements on the child's needs and development;

(2) any special medical, mental health, or educational needs that the child may have that
may require special parenting arrangements or access to recommended services;

(3) the reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient
ability, age, and maturity to express an independent, reliable preference;

(4) whether domestic abuse, as defined in section 518B.01, has occurred in the parents'
or either parent's household or relationship; the nature and context of the domestic abuse;
and the implications of the domestic abuse for parenting and for the child's safety, well-being,
and developmental needs;

(5) any physical, mental, or chemical health issue of a parent that affects the child's
safety or developmental needs;

(6) the history and nature of each parent's participation in providing care for the child;

(7) the willingness and ability of each parent to provide ongoing care for the child; to
meet the child's ongoing developmental, emotional, spiritual, and cultural needs; and to
maintain consistency and follow through with parenting time;

(8) the effect on the child's well-being and development of changes to home, school,
and community;

(9) the effect of the proposed arrangements on the ongoing relationships between the
child and each parent, siblings, and other significant persons in the child's life;

(10) the benefit to the child in maximizing parenting time with both parents and the
detriment to the child in limiting parenting time with either parent;

(11) except in cases in which domestic abuse as described in clause (4) has occurred,
the disposition of each parent to support the child's relationship with the other parent and
to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and the other
parent; and

(12) the willingness and ability of parents to cooperate in the rearing of their child; to
maximize sharing information and minimize exposure of the child to parental conflict; and
to utilize methods for resolving disputes regarding any major decision concerning the life
of the child.

(b) Clauses (1) to (9) (10) govern the application of the best interests of the child factors
by the court:

(1) The court must make detailed findings on each of the factors in paragraph (a) based
on the evidence presented and explain how each factor led to its conclusions and to the
determination of custody and parenting time. The court may not use one factor to the
exclusion of all others, and the court shall consider that the factors may be interrelated.

(2) The court shall consider that it is in the best interests of the child to promote the
child's healthy growth and development through safe, stable, nurturing relationships between
a child and both parents.

(3) The court shall consider both parents as having the capacity to develop and sustain
nurturing relationships with their children unless there are substantial reasons to believe
otherwise. In assessing whether parents are capable of sustaining nurturing relationships
with their children, the court shall recognize that there are many ways that parents can
respond to a child's needs with sensitivity and provide the child love and guidance, and
these may differ between parents and among cultures.

(4) The court shall not consider conduct of a party that does not affect the party's
relationship with the child.

(5) Disability alone, as defined in section 363A.03, of a proposed custodian or the child
shall not be determinative of the custody of the child.

(6) The court shall consider evidence of a violation of section 609.507 in determining
the best interests of the child.

(7) There is no presumption for or against joint physical custody, except as provided in
clause (9).

(8) Joint physical custody does not require an absolutely equal division of time.

(9) The court shall use a rebuttable presumption that upon request of either or both
parties, joint legal custody is in the best interests of the child. However, the court shall use
a rebuttable presumption that joint legal custody or joint physical custody is not in the best
interests of the child if domestic abuse, as defined in section 518B.01, has occurred between
the parents. In determining whether the presumption is rebutted, the court shall consider
the nature and context of the domestic abuse and the implications of the domestic abuse for
parenting and for the child's safety, well-being, and developmental needs. Disagreement
alone over whether to grant sole or joint custody does not constitute an inability of parents
to cooperate in the rearing of their children as referenced in paragraph (a), clause (12).

(10) The court shall maximize the time a child spends with each parent to the highest
degree logistically possible for any parent who requests maximized parenting time that does
not impede on the other parent's right to maximize parenting time, except with evidence
and detailed findings by the court of the following:

(i) abuse;

(ii) harm;

(iii) neglect;

(iv) abandonment;

(v) domestic violence;

(vi) untreated chemical dependency;

(vii) untreated mental illness;

(viii) unwillingness by a parent to accept or request maximum parenting time;

(ix) a parent's inability to logistically adhere to a parenting time schedule directly or find
alternative care during the parent's scheduled parenting time; or

(x) special medical needs of the child where doctors demonstrate it is in the best interest
of the child to minimize contact with one parent.

(c) In a proceeding involving the custodial responsibility of a service member's child, a
court may not consider only a parent's past deployment or possible future deployment in
determining the best interests of the child. For purposes of this paragraph, "custodial
responsibility" has the meaning given in section 518E.102, paragraph (f).

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