Skip to main content

Co-parenting court could be national model

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Hennepin County's pioneering co-parenting court has made a positive difference for hundreds of families, according to the Star Tribune. The court is considered a national model for how to help participants instead of punishing them.

Most people who show up in family court are unmarried parents. Hennepin County District Judge Bruce Peterson sought a way to turn relationships that produce children into permanent parental partnerships.

"We bring in all these young men and say, 'Congratulations, you're the father. Here's your child support amount. Next case," Peterson said.

A University of Minnesota report on the court found that 95 percent of participants didn't live together. Couples who completed the program reported an increased rate of child support payment, more paternal involvement with the child, and healthier bonds between parents.

Couples may participate if they both show up for court dates, if they both speak English, and if one has applied for public assistance. Neither can have an open child-protection or domestic-violence case.

The therapeutic court helps parents make a plan to raise their children. They learn how to resolve conflict and decide on questions big and small, from bedtimes to how the child gets places to what, if any, religion he or she will practice.

An NPR News story said 40 percent of children nationwide are now born to unmarried parents. Unlike divorced parents, they may not have a history of co-parenting.

Many men who show up in the Hennepin County Co-Parent Court were raised by single mothers and don't want their children to be fatherless.

Joseph Arradondo is one of them. After he went through Co-Parent Court, he won custody of this toddler three days a week.

"I think more men should go downtown...regardless if you're afraid the relationship is going to get even worse," he said. "I think you need to go downtown on the strength of just your child."

Supporters of the court believe a more stable home environment will help children do better in school and life, and may be an effective start to closing the achievement gap. One long-term question is whether fathers will stay involved in their childrens' lives.

Another is whether the court is sustainable financially.

For now the $450,000 annual budget is covered by the University of Minnesota and grants. The Hennepin County Board voted Tuesday to match state investment in the program for 2014.

Judge Peterson said he hopes the federal government will help expand the program. The university is working on a new report that will provide a cost-benefit analysis of the program.

Next Up


BREAKING: Rescue efforts underway for 100+ stuck on ice chunk on Minnesota lake

Red Lake — both Upper and Lower — is the largest freshwater lake in the state.

Screen Shot 2022-11-28 at 9.38.30 AM

St. Paul featured on Hallmark Channel's 'Christmas Cam' livestream

Downtown's dazzling display can be viewed from anywhere in the world.


Charges: Drunk driver almost struck Bemidji parade spectators

The man told police he was trying to attend the parade himself.


The SCHEELS Experience

Whether looking for reliable hunting and fishing gear or new clothing and shoes, Eden Prairie SCHEELS is a one-stop shopping experience for the whole family.


Charges: Man fatally shot ex's new partner as he dined at Bloomington restaurant

Criminal charges filed Monday detail an alleged motive in the shooting.


Metallica to perform 2 nights in Minneapolis on 2023-24 World Tour

The heavy metal rock band returns to the state for the first time since 2018.

snow, plow

Tuesday storm to dump plowable snow in Minnesota

Snow should reach the Twin Cities Tuesday morning and fall throughout the day.

Screen Shot 2022-11-28 at 6.57.31 AM

Police: Drunk-driver almost struck people watching parade in Bemidji

The man was arrested for DWI charges following the incident.

police tape

3 at trauma centers in critical condition after rural MN attack

Two victims and the alleged attacker are in critical condition.

grinch neighbor

Neighborhood 'grinch' sends letter to Burnsville family over holiday lights

A Burnsville family's holiday decorations were the subject of an anonymous complaint.