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North Dakota ballot measure calls for shared parenting

In previous posts, our blog has discussed how there is currently a movement among lawmakers in several states to make so-called shared parenting laws part of their respective family codes.

For those unfamiliar with the idea of shared parenting laws, they essentially mandate that -- absent concerns over domestic violence, substance abuse, etc. -- children of divorce spend equal time with both parents. This means both parents would not only enjoy equal parenting time, but also occupy an equal position in the life of the child.

This movement toward shared parenting has been brought about largely through the collective efforts of divorced fathers across the U.S., many of whom have expressed concern over what they perceive as an inherent bias toward mothers in the family courts.

It has also been helped to a great extent by various studies, which have shown that children benefit the most from having both parents play a role in their upbringing. 

Interestingly, it now appears as if another state here in the Midwest is actively considering whether to make a fundamental change to its existing child custody laws via the introduction of a shared parenting law.

A few weeks ago, a petition with over 13,400 required signatures was submitted to the North Dakota Secretary of State calling for a proposed shared parenting measure to be put on the November ballot.  

As written, the measure provides that unless clear and convincing evidence proves otherwise, no petitioning biological or adoptive parent would be "denied equal parenting rights and responsibilities, equal parenting time, equal primary residential responsibility and equal decision making responsibility of a child in a custody case."

The measure dictates that 12 separate health/safety factors would be used in assessing the fitness of the petitioning parent.

It remains to be seen whether the Secretary of State will approve the ballot measure by a July 21, 2014 deadline.

What are your thoughts on the North Dakota ballot measure?

If you would like to learn more about child custody, visitation or other divorce-related matters here in Minnesota, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can explain your rights and your options.

Source: KVLY, "North Dakota could see changes to child custody," June 16, 2014

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