A committee meeting in Pierre Tuesday morning will start the legislative discussion on a topic already getting plenty of talk outside the Capitol.
There are approximately 4,000 divorce cases in South Dakota each year and a large percentage of those involve a child in some sort of custody battle. This year, the dynamic of those cases could change if the state legislature passes a bill involving shared parenting.
Senate Bill 74, as it is titled now, will put a law in place that says the courts will at least consider granting joint custody of a child to each parent. That consideration is all people like Casey Wilson wants.
It was his personal battle for more time with his kids after his divorce that led him to go to social media and start what is now a statewide movement. With over 3,000 supporters on the shared parenting Facebook pages, Wilson hopes the legislature and the courts take a look at the latest social science research in favor of having both parents equally in the child's lives.
"There's no question that there will be a presumption of shared parenting for fit parents eventually in this state and in all other states," Wilson said.
On the opposite side of the debate, there is talk that even if the bill passes, it will not make a difference when the case gets to the court room because the judge will still have the final say about custody.
"The factor is still going to be the best interest of the child, and the court's still going to look at all of the factors that it must in the testimony and decide if this is a child that can handle equal time in equal households," attorney Shelly Munson said.
The bill is entering a Senate committee Tuesday morning in Pierre and we will have full coverage of what is discussed.
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