South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard signed the shared parenting bill into law March 12. The signing ends years of work for those involved with the South Dakota Shared Parenting organization.
"It was kind of a bit of relief to see that the courts can finally recognize that a fit parent should not be excluded from their kids' lives," Grant Houwman said.
Both Casey Wilson and Houwman were standing right behind Governor Daugaard when he signed the shared parenting bill into law, something they both have been hoping to see for years.
"To be a part of that. We're actually helping to change things for families for 50 and maybe 100 years. That's a pretty neat feeling," Wilson said.
The new custody option officially takes effect on July 1, and Wilson is already taking calls about what their legal options will be.
"I probably talk to two or three people a day that want to know what the bill does, what more rights they have, what their odds are," Wilson said.
While both Wilson and Houwman agree that the bill signing is a victory, they feel their work is just beginning, especially when it comes to looking out for the children involved in the custody cases.
"The only way that a kid can be represented in court is to basically have their own attorney to represent their interest because the kid's interest is to have a mom and a dad that want to be involved in their kid's lives," Houwman said.
That is why they are adopting new focuses, like organizing rallies to raise awareness to issues like parent alienation. They will also become a resource for parents heading back into court.
"If they have a third party, which would be our group, that can kind of make them aware of what the laws are and where they need to go and recommend attorneys that play fair," Wilson said.
Step one of their movement is done. It's now time for step two.
"We all love our kids, and if you're a fit parent, there's no reason you shouldn't have a maximum amount of time with your children," Wilson said.