It’s one thing to warm up to the idea of your child being forced to spend time with your ex; but being forced to encourage your child to spend time with your ex, and to enjoy it, well, that’s wading into uncharted waters.
But Minnesota law forces courts to analyze a parent’s ability to encourage and promote a relationship with the child and the other parent. Under the 12 ‘best interest’ factors, upon which child custody and parenting time decisions are deliberated in Minnesota, factor 11 states:
“except in cases in which domestic abuse … has occurred, the disposition of each parent to support the child’s relationship with the other parent and to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and the other parent”
Minn. Stat. § 518.17, subd. 1(a)(11).
So do we really have to fake ‘warm and fuzzy’ feelings for the other parent, for the benefit of our child? Isn’t that going too far? Why must we fake affection for our ex? Make no mistake, the err in going down this path of falsity was indelibly etched in the social conscience by one of music’s greatest balladeers, one Michael Bolton, who famously penned the unforgettable maxim “said I loved you…but I lied.”
Perhaps Minnesota courts and lawmakers should listen to the sage advice of music’s greatest balladeer, to understand that nothing but heartache and misery can come from feigning love. Do we need to have Michael Bolton songs playing the hallways of our courthouses and legislature? Maybe one day we’ll get there.
Nonetheless, promoting a relationship with the other parent, even though forced, is actually considered good parenting, when you consider that the alternative can be harmful to a child’s development.
Consider a recent appellate case heard, Wadsen v. Rosenthal, where a parent went as far as putting tattoos on the child’s genitals (and blaming the other parent), telling the child to lie about acts of violence committed by the other parent, and making up reports of the other parent’s attempt to drown the chid. (Minn. Ct. App. 2018) (Unpublished). The court found that the parent’s attempts to interfere with the child’s relationship with the other parent, put pressure on the child and was harming the child emotionally.
In an effort to quell the toxicity, the trial court ordered the parents to use Our Family Wizard to communicate with one another, and, to include one positive thing that they said to the child, about the other parent. On appeal, the aggrieved parent challenged this point, and in spite of an appeal to save parents from being forced to say “said I love you …. but I lied”, and heed Michael Bolton’s warning, the court nonetheless persisted that the child “might benefit from hearing the parties make positive statements about one another.”
What’s the takeaway from this discussion? Until Michael Bolton becomes a Minnesota lawmaker, forcing some positive vibes toward the other parent can be something a Minnesota Court will expect of separated parents.
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