Marc Johannsen has featured three videos on his bio page which contain the following text.
How did the “best interest” factors change in 2015?
The bill just passed by the legislature and signed by the governor this week did fundamentally rewrite the “best interest” factors. Many of the ideas of the old factors have been reworded in a more easy to understand and usable fashion, but they’ve introduced a number of innovations or modifications to those factors, and I’d like to talk about those.The first is whether there are any special needs of the child, both medical, emotional, or physical that would dictate a particular custodial arrangement and which parents would be in a better position to provide for those needs.Another would be the benefit to the child in maximizing the amount of time that child would spend with both parents, and then also comparing that to whether there would be a detriment to the child with not maximizing the amount of parenting time that would be spent with each parent, and that’s a very large change from prior law.
The third would be the willingness of, and the ability of, each parent to cooperate in the rearing of the child and to maximize sharing information and minimize exposure of the child to negative things that may go on between the parents. And then also to be willing to and also utilize alternative dispute resolution methods to ensure that the child’s needs are being met.
But a very large innovation is that directive language that’s being given to the court, which said that 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. So, this is a very new statement in the law that has never been there heretofore. And as a result, I think the court will have much more direction in terms of trying to ensure that children spend significant amounts of time with both parents that are loving and stable homes.
What jurisdictional considerations do I need to keep in mind if I am getting a divorce and live in Minnesota while my spouse lives in Wisconsin?
Well, first of all, because of the United States being 50 unique states, you cannot simply move from state to state for getting a divorce. You have to live in a state for a minimum amount of time. In the case of Minnesota and in Wisconsin you have to be a resident of the state for at least 180 days, or six months, before starting a divorce proceeding. Now, if you live in Minnesota and had been here for more than six months and your spouse lives in Wisconsin and had been there for more than six months, either one of you could start a divorce proceeding in each of those states. Typically, you would want to analyze which state would be more favorable for your position, if you have a choice, and start the divorce in that state.
What custody rights do grandparents have to see his or her grandchildren?
Minnesota does recognize a grandparent’s right to seek visitation rights. It’s not an unlimited amount of time like a custodial parent might get, but it may give them an opportunity to see a child perhaps a weekend a month or something like that. This is a complicated area and it’s governed by United State Supreme Court authority as well as Minnesota Supreme Court authority, but it does put significant influence in the hands of the custodial parent in making those initial determination. And then if that, then, is not satisfactory to the grandparents they then can come to the courts in our state and ask for grandparent visitation. And ultimately the issues is, how would the child having contact with the grandparent be in that child’s best interest, on the one hand, versus how will that negatively impact the child’s ability to be parented by their parent. So, for instance, in the case of estranged grandparents and child, perhaps the daughter doesn’t want the grandparents to see the child. That does occur in some circumstances. The grandparents can come and ask to have the court order that, but the court may find that the grandparents are interfering with, or negatively impacting the child’s relationship with, the custodial parent and may deny those rights or may impose other restrictions to ensure that that relationship is beneficial to the child and not detrimental to the custodial parent.