Meeting Dates/Times/ Logistics Room

Monday, September 22ND, 1:30-4, RM. G-06 (MJC)

Joint Physical Custody Study Group

Minutes from September 22, 2008 meeting

Present: Chair, Judge Kevin Eide, District Court, Carver County
Members: Judge Heidi Schelhaus, Minnesota Court of Appeals
Paul Masiarchin, Minnesota Fathers and Families Network
Sharon Durken. Minnesota Kinship Caregivers Association
Jeff Edelson, University of MN School of Social Work
Chad Bathelemy, Citizen Representative
Liz Richards. Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women
Glen Palm, Child and Family Studies, St. Cloud State University
Pamela Waggoner, Minnesota State Bar Association
Jill Olson, Minnesota Department of Human Services
Ben Henschel, MN chapter, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
Jim Street, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services
Molly Olson, Center for Parental Responsibility
Irene Opsahl, Legal Aid Society
Nancy VerSteegh, Reporter, William Mitchell College of Law
Mark Toogood, staff, Manager, Family Services Unit
Jodie Metcalf, staff, Child Support Magistrate


Judge Eide opened the meeting with a welcome and by reviewing the legislative charge to the group.

Each person then introduced himself or herself, including their profession, any relevant group affiliation, and relevant areas of expertise, interest or experience. Each person stated what they want for children and families involved in our court system. Below is a sampling of the comments:

· Fair, affordable, gender neutral
· Grandparents, aunts and uncles – extended family impacted
· wants what is best for the children in these families based on the best evidence available
· Wants to see an assessment during divorce of communication styles/accusations and evidentiary proof
· a system that encourages both parents to be as happy and healthy as possible
· Want good outcomes for kids, but hard to define that.
· Continuity for children, due process of everyone in the family, keep in mind need to look at impact on unrepresented parties and court resources
· want it to reflect complex context and look carefully at the development of children what is best for a 2 year old is not what is best for a 13 year old

· Need to be aware of lack of resources in family court and the financial distress and emotional crisis they are in. Need consistency and attention to the needs of each individual family
· Wants to not suffer further disruption or loss as a result of our system
· Prioritize contested custody cases; agree there are limited court resources. Cultural differences impact what is in the best interests of the child; maybe we can get some diverse voices at the public hearing. Want a fair process that will help the court make the best decision possible.
· Want to remove the obstacles that prevent both parents from being fully and equally involved in the lives of their children.
· Domestic violence goes both ways. Believe that we need to remember and consider that the parent-child relationship is a fundamental right absent abuse, harm, neglect, or abandonment.
· Many families settle their disputes, but a certain percentage does not. Family court does not help – makes it worse. Would like the cases out of the court system, avoid having them turn their issues over to strangers to decide.
· De-funding of parent education, custody evaluations, GAL services in family court which means courts do not have good information to make decisions.

The group then agreed on some ground rules for respectful and productive communication as noted in the document provided with the minutes. There were some additions and deletions from the proposed list which are included in a separate document.

Jodie Metcalf presented an overview of state laws regarding joint physical custody in all 50 states.

Dr. Edelman presented information on assessing the validity and credibility of social science research.

NEXT MEETING: Monday, October 27, 2008 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Followed by a Public Hearing/Listening Session from 3:45 to 5:30 p.m.
Both in Room 230 Minnesota Judicial Center



Monday, October 27TH, 1:30-5:30, RM. 230 (MJC)

Monday, November 24TH, 1:30-4, RM. 230 (MJC)

Monday, December 15TH, 1:30-4, RM. G-06 (MJC)