Lawmakers in Pierre are considering a law redefining custody in divorce cases. SB 125 would allow both parents to have equal joint custody of their children.
One KELOLAND father hopes this bill will help others going through divorce have equal rights.
When you walk into Troy Wanner's home, it's not hard to tell what is most important to him.
In the six months since his divorce was finalized, he hasn't been able to spend much time with his daughter.
"Right now the agreement is more of a 75 to 25. I see her about 25 percent of a two-week period. And she's with her mother 75 percent of the time," Wanner said.
Wanner is actively involved with the group, South Dakota Shared Parenting. And he has been pushing for the Joint Custody Bill, SB 125, to be put into law. While this is the farthest this legislation has gotten in Pierre, Wanner is hesitant to get his hopes up.
"Yesterday when it came out of the state affairs committee, I was very excited. But like I told some of my friends, this is just a step. It's not the step. And it's a small step, and it's a step forward. I don't want to be optimistic because I don't want to jinx anything," Wanner said.
Opponents of the bill say they fear children could be sent to dangerous homes with this new bill. And while Wanner understands there are some unfit parents in the world, he believes they are the minority.
"We presume that if we start off with 50/50 that children will be placed in unfit homes. And quite honestly, and if you look at the research that is well than less than 10 percent of the case loads of South Dakota. 90 percent of divorces have two really good people who want to be parents. And one of them is getting cheated," Wanner said.
Wanner doesn't see things changing for his situation any time soon, but he does hope this new law can help other mothers and fathers in his position.
"I know that I'm not guaranteed 50/50. But I just know that down the road that presumption is going to change for somebody else, who doesn't have to go through what I've had to go through," Wanner said.