"Equal Parenting" Bill Claims to Have Children's Best Interest in Mind

By KBJR News 1

March 28, 2012 Updated Mar 28, 2012 at 6:09 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Taras Lendzyk—a recently divorced father of one—claims that, above all, he is a father first.

"I'm fighting to see my son on a daily basis—weekly, monthly—basis. What I want to do is see change in the family law system," said Lendzyk.

According to Lendzyk, two equally–fit parents—regardless of personal differences—should not have to fight for time with their children. He says the current Minnesota family laws are outdated.

"If we go back many years—to the 30s, 40s, 50s—the mothers were at home with the children, taking care of the child while the father was out in the work field. It's a lot different today. Laws need to change as society changes," said Lendzyk.

Lendzyk cites numerous studies—such as the KRUK research study—that show the healthiest, happiest children result from equally shared parenting. Current state laws presume one parent will hold 75–percent custody of a child—which Lendzyk claims makes good parents fight an unnecessary war that wreaks havoc on the child's emotional development.

"When one parent is taken out of that picture, more often than not there is an increase in trouble with the law with those children," said Lendzyk.

But not everyone is on board with the proposed bill.

While HF 322 offers numerous exceptions in cases of convicted child abuse, opponents fear for the children in abuse instances that go under the radar.

"This child may be a victim of domestic abuse. It might not be reported, there might not be a conviction. So, these are going under the radar, and these are kids that are going to have to be with their parent an equal amount of time—with that safe parent—as with an abuser," said Laura Gapske, legal advocate for the Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse.

And while Lendzyk says he agrees completely with opponents in regard to situations of child abuse, he claims starting the custody battle on an equal playing field is the only way justice will be served.

"I shouldn't have to prove why I should be in my son's life. The other party should prove why I shouldn't be in my son's life," said Lendzyk.

...both sides fighting for the child's best interest in a situation that is far from perfect.

While HF 322 passed on the House Judiciary Committee last week, the bill still needs to pass through a series of floors—including the House and Senate floors—before becoming law.