St. Paul, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- After an emotional debate that crossed party and gender lines, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the bill that would give equal child custody to both parents after a divorce.
The House passed the bill 80-53 and will now move onto the Senate where Senator Pam Wolf (R - Spring Lake Park) is the sponsor.
The Children's Equal and Shared Parenting Act would change the current child custody law so that each parent receives at least 45.1% of parenting time with their child. The current law only asks for a minimum of 25% parenting time for child custody.
The bill would also extend child custody laws to people who are not married, but have established parentage between the parties involved.
It has taken the Equal Parenting bill two years to reach the House and along the way, testifier's stories have been "heart-wrenching and breathtaking", says Representative Peggy Scott (R - Andover) who sponsored the child custody bill in the House.
Scott also says that the current system pits parents against one another in a divorce in order to determine who is "more fit" as a parent.
However, Representative Tina Liebling (DFL - Rochester) says the bill would make "extreme changes" to Minnesota's custody laws and is a one-size-fits-all solution. Liebling says that each family situation is unique and that the child's needs should be the top priority and taken into consideration before the parents'.
The bill is expected to cost the General Fund $1.5 million in 2013 and $4 million for the next two years. The cost reflects the additional court staffing that would be added.
The Equal Parenting bill is expected to be introduced on the Senate floor Thursday, April 19th.
Posted to the web by Krista Burns