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House passes bill giving unmarried parents in child custody cases new opportunity

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Hoping to streamline the child custody process for unmarried parents, the House on Monday passed a bill that would afford those couples joint petition rights similar to divorce court proceedings.

The bill, HF3295, would allow joint petitions for custody, parenting time and child support to be filed in family court when the parties agree on all the issues of the case. Current law allows divorcing parents to use the joint petition process but doesn’t give unwed couples the same rights.

WATCH Full video of Monday's House Floor session 

Sponsored by Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover), the bill passed on a 125-0 vote. It now goes to the Senate where Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) is the sponsor.

The bill would allow the joint petition to be filed without a summons and the petition includes a signed recognition of parentage, signifying there isn’t any other alleged or presumed father. In line with current law, the bill would allow unmarried parents to appear in a hearing before a judge but they would not have to go through the entire family court process.

“It’s a simple bill, but I think it will help a lot of people,” Scott said. 

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