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September 9, 2005
Case Law Development: Hearing Required on Motions to Modify Custodial Parent's Authority in Health Care Decisions
In this lastest installment of an extended custody battle, the Minnesota Court of Appeals holds that when a party establishes a prima facie case for limiting the custodial parent’s authority to make health-care decisions, the district court errs by failing to hold an evidentiary hearing pursuant to Minnesota's statutes.
In re Marriage Tarlan, 2005 Minn. App. LEXIS 744 (September 6, 2005)
Opinion on the web at http://www.courts.state.mn.us/opinions/coa/current/opa042257-0906.htm
(last visited September 9, 2005 bgf)
The court noted that the statute for modification of custodial parent decisionmaking, which is identical to the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, requires a hearing. The court interpreted this to mean that a hearing is required if the petitioning parent has established a prima facie case for modification under the statute.
Mother had alleged that Father was continually weighing his daughter, against her will, causing her emotional trauma. The county social service agency had also recommended that Father obtain counseling for his daughter and refrain from weighing her against her will. The court found that these allegations, if true, presented a prima facie case for modification of a custodial parent's health care decision authority. That standard requires that the parent's decisions endanger the health of the child. The court stated, "Emotional abuse alone may constitute sufficient endangerment, and when an allegation of such abuse is supported by some evidence, an evidentiary hearing is appropriate."