Not quite ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Mechanics’, but, I recently came to a revelation. This past Sunday I (very slowly) ran the Twin Cities Marathon. One of the benefits of running at a pace like mine is getting a very long time to take in the beautiful scenery of the 26.2 mile course. The Twin Cities is a beautiful place to take in on foot.
But for me what topped even the beautiful scenery was the overwhelming enthusiasm of thousands of spectators lining the course; more than 300,000! The level of passion they showed in their cheering made me (and 10,000 who ran with me) feel that my crossing the finish line was their responsibility.
I couldn’t get over how total strangers were willing to stand outside, jump, cheer, dance and hold signs, in an effort to will me across the finish line.
This made me think, are we a little too quick to abandon the idea that someone might actually care about our success?
PRESUMPTION SHOULD NOT MISTAKEN FOR APATHY
The word ‘presumption’ is sometimes used by lawmakers as a way of better-enabling courts to interpret and apply their laws. In Family Law, lawmakers use presumptions in making laws to help courts and lawyers figure out how to make good decisions, and hopefully give good advice about child custody and parenting time.
Here’s an example of how a presumption can work. When divorced or separated parents both want authority to make decisions about their child’s medical care, education, or religious upbringing (the law calls this authority ‘legal custody’) Minnesota lawmakers came up with a set of rules to help the court figure out how to answer this request. The rule in Minnesota is that “joint legal custody” is presumed to be the best thing for a child; meaning that both parents, regardless of the divorce or separation, should still have the right to participate in making decisions about a child’s health care, education, and religion. So, it is always good to start a discussion about legal custody with the assumption that a court will want to give that authority to both parents.
That’s not a bad concept – why wouldn’t it benefit a child to have both parents involved in her/his upbringing? Does this mean that it is always good to assume that the only thing a court can do is order that both parents make decisions about a child’s education or healthcare? What if the parents can’t agree? Is it good for a child to have his/her medical care decisions stuck at an impasse because of a parents’ disagreement?
The Courts have answered this question by limiting the use of the presumption to only those cases “where the parents can cooperatively deal with parenting decisions.” Rosenfeld v. Rosenfeld, 529 N.W.2d 724, 726 (Minn. App. 1995). Although it makes sense to acknowledge that a ‘presumption’ doesn’t mean that a court is prohibited from doing otherwise, it doesn’t eliminate the inherent danger in mistaking presumption for prediction. Just because the presumption exists does not mean we should replace that for the court’s judgment. It is possible a judge could see a better solution for a child.
In cases where there is a potential that parents will not cooperate in making decisions about their child, caution is urged when making the assumption that that a court won’t bother to make a careful decision about which parent should have the authority to make decisions about a child’s upbringing.
Sometimes, even a total stranger can and does care about your (and your children’s) success.
Contact Beyer & Simonson
If you are facing divorce and any of the divorce-related issues such as spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, property division, or domestic abuse matters, you need our experienced Minneapolis divorce attorneys to help you. Contact Beyer & Simonson in Edina, Minnesota today at (952) 303-6007.