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Washington couples who are going through a divorce spend much of their time negotiating the specifics of the divorce with their soon-to-be ex-spouse. Topics up for negotiation include the division of assets, the family home, and in some cases,child custody. For many families, the decision about which parent should have custody of any minor children is often a contentious and emotional one.

In many Washington cases the decision about the placement of a child is made through negotiations by the parents. In an effort to make a determination as to what is best for the child, the parents often set aside their differences to agree on a child custody plan. In other cases, when the parents cannot agree, a court is asked to decide child custody.

Our readers may be interested to learn about one state that is considering changing the way that courts decide child custody. Under the new proposed legislation in Minnesota, when a court is asked to determine the child custody plan, there will be a presumption that the parental time should be split equally. Equal parenting time is currently defined as 45.1 percent of the time with each parent under the proposal.

There are possible exemptions in the proposed bill. If a parent can prove to the court that it is not in the best interests of the child to spend a significant amount of time with the other parent, the court can award custody as it deems fit. The reasons for a smaller amount of child custody would include child endangerment, abandonment, abuse and other actions.

While it remains to be seen if the proposed legislation will be enacted into law, it does not directly affect child custody proceedings in Washington. However, the pending bill signals an increased interest in this issue. Those confronting divorce where minor children are involved would do well to follow the debate and look for any indications about how these matters are typically decided by our courts.