In a previous post, our blog discussed how a growing number of lawmakers, parents and family advocacy groups are calling on state legislatures to enact so-called shared-parenting laws that -- with the exception of cases of involving substance abuse or domestic violence -- would essentially mandate that children of divorce spend equal time with both parents.
Interestingly, lawmakers in neighboring South Dakota attempted to introduce just such a shared parenting bill last year only to see their proposal roundly defeated due to concerns from fellow lawmakers that it was perhaps overreaching.
"The way the language was crafted last year, was pretty strong," said Sen. Corey Brown, (R-Gettysburg). "It would have forced shared parenting situations onto a couple or child, even if that's not what one of the parties wanted."
In recent developments, lawmakers in the Mount Rushmore State are once again attempting to amend existing child custody laws to account for shared parenting concerns. This time, however, the proposed legislation is taking a more measured approach.
The 2014 version of the Shared Parenting Bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Dan Lederman (R-Dakota Dunes) and Rep. Charles Hoffman (R-Eureka), wouldn't mandate 50-50 splits when it comes to joint custody, but rather would create guidelines for judges to consider when making determinations concerning joint physical custody. Specifically, it would enable judges to consider such new factors as appropriate housing, suitability, and parental stability to name only a few.
"This bill makes it a little more clear as to what judges should look for in determining the time split between mothers and fathers," said Lederman, the Assistant Majority Leader of the South Dakota Senate.
This year's version of the bill came about as a direct result of the collaborative efforts of lawmakers, father's rights advocates and the state bar association. Interestingly, the state bar association actually came out against last year's version of the bill, arguing that it could serve to engender greater conflict among divorced parents.
For their part, both Lederman and Hoffman are confident that the proposed bill will pass this session as several lawmakers have already pledged their support.
Stay tuned for updates ...
Those with questions or concerns regarding child custody, child support or other divorce-related matters here in Minnesota, should strongly consider consulting with an experienced attorney who can outline your options and enforce your rights.
Source: The Capital Journal, "Lawmakers set to introduce child custody bill," Joel Ebert, Jan. 21, 2014; USA Today, "Shared parenting could be new divorce outcome," Jonathan Ellis, Jan. 27, 2014