Sioux Falls, SD
Nathan Wattier may be enjoying an evening with his children, but this is just one of eight chances he can see son Covin and daughter Harper each month. After a divorce in 2009, he found himself in college and a difficult financial situation. His lawyers gave him some upsetting advice.
"They kind of told me that with my kids being the age they were and the way the laws were and not having roughly $10,000 to spend, I was chained to the state guidelines," Wattier said.
The courts did not consider shared parenting options at the time, awarding primary custody to their mother. From there, Wattier found it hard to get consistent time with his kids.
"There's been a couple times where I didn't see the kids for almost two months, she just refused to let me see them, and there's no recourse for that, really. I don't know how I get that time back," Wattier said.
Wattier admits to being too passive when it came to their custody situation, but that all changed two years ago when he received a text message from his ex wife.
"My ex-wife just up-ed and moved my kids to Centerville without petitioning the courts," Wattier said.
He has looked at all of his custody options ever since, and now has jumped on board with the shared parenting movement. If the bill becomes law, he could see his case returning to court with the chance for more time with Covin and Harper.
"I think of myself as a good father, my kids would say the same thing. I coach youth basketball here in town, I mean, if I'm good enough to look after other people's children, I think I can look after my own," Wattier said.
He has an optimistic outlook for his case, but he also wants to make sure other parents in this situation start with that outlook instead of fighting for it.
Wattier was in Pierre Wednesday afternoon for the discussion on the shared parenting bill in the House Judiciary Committee. It is now one full House vote away from the Governor's desk.