Shared parenting legislation has received a lot of support in the South Dakota Capitol this week. The bill passed the Senate unanimously yesterday.
The shared parenting legislation sets forth standards for judges to consider during custody disputes. If parents meet those standards the court can award an even split in custody.
Many of the people behind the push are dads without primary custody under South Dakota's current system but some mothers are also glad the legislation is moving forward.
"They don't allow me to see them at all. It's all under his control. I don't have anything right now," Jamie Metcalfe said.
Jamie Metcalfe takes care of her teenage daughter from a previous relationship but yet has been denied custody of her three-year-old son Thomas and two-year-old girl Ferrah following her divorce in her most recent marriage.
"It doesn't just affect fathers it affects the mothers too. The courts just decide by money and who has the better lawyer who gets the children," Metcalfe said.
Right now South Dakota courts award primary custody to one parent and non-custodial status to the other parent instead of having the option to award shared parenting.
"They're using children as pawns to hurt the other party and it's not fair to the children or to the other parent who really loves them," Metcalfe said.
That's why Metcalfe is in support of the shared parenting legislation that hasn't run into any opposition yet in the state capitol this year.
"If there is a serious reason not to have a parent in a child's life then by all means protect the child, I understand, but when parents want to be parents to their kids they should be allowed to," Metcalfe said.
And it’s why Metcalfe believe mothers will also benefit from the changes being proposed in Pierre.
The shared parenting legislation now moves on to the House of Representatives.