Q: What restrictions exist when preparing a parenting plan where there is domestic abuse?
A parenting plan may not require a dispute resolution process (i.e. mediation) other than the judicial process if a parent is alleged to have committed domestic abuse toward a parent or child who is a party to, or subject of, the matter before the court. If such domestic abuse has been alleged, the court must consider the appointment of a guardian ad litem and a parenting plan evaluator.
It is presumed that it is not in the best interests of the child for a parenting plan that provides for joint legal custody or use of dispute resolution processes, other than the judicial process, if the court has found that Minnesota Statutes section 58.179 applies (the parent seeking custody or parenting time has been convicted of an enumerated criminal offense), or the court finds that either parent has engaged in the following toward a parent or child who is a party to, or subject of, the matter before the court: (1) acts of domestic abuse, including physical harm, bodily injury, and infliction of fear of physical harm, assault, terroristic threats, or criminal sexual conduct; (2) physical, sexual, or a pattern of emotional abuse of a child; or (3) willful abandonment that continues for an extended period of time or substantial refusal to perform parenting functions.15