Missouri Moving Towards Shared Parenting 5

spw logo site blueShared parenting drive makes its way to Missouri Legislature

Bill Draper, The Associated Press

February 15, 2016 Updated: February 15, 2016 8:16am

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A growing national movement seeking to force judges to award equal custody to both divorcing parents has come to Missouri, where backers of shared parenting bills in both legislative chambers say the issue is gaining traction.

Current state law requires only that judges award “significant, but not necessarily equal” periods of time with a child. A Senate bill heard in committee last week would change that to “approximate and reasonably equal” time.
Proponents of the measure argue that in cases in which both parents are equally deserving of custody, courts disproportionately award physical custody to the mother.

Critics counter that while shared parenting makes sense on an emotional level, many factors make laws requiring equal time impractical or even dangerous for the children.

“We are trying to change the mindset of the court,” said Rep. Kathy Swan, a Cape Girardeau Republican who sponsored a duplicate shared parenting bill in her chamber. “The more time a child spends with each parent, the greater value each parent has in raising his or her child.”

Legislation introduced last year in the House never made it to a vote after the Missouri Bar raised objections, mainly over how such a law would impact child support. A spokeswoman for the group said its board of governors had not taken a position on this year’s bill.

Shared parenting measures have been proposed in 18 states in the past year, according to the National Parents Organization, which promotes such laws nationwide.

Utah and Minnesota passed shared parenting laws during that time, while three states — Missouri, Massachusetts and Kentucky — currently have active bills before their legislatures. Several states that considered such measures last year are expected to bring them up again this year, according to the National Parents Organization.

Dr. Ned Holstein, founder and board chairman of the Boston-based group, said research shows that a shared parenting arrangement is much better for a child than one in which a judge makes a winner out of one parent and a loser out of the other.

He said shared parenting bills aren’t intended to take custody away from the mother, but instead require judges to start with the assumption that parents deserve equal time and go from there.

“There are a lot of reasons a parent might not be fit. If they’re psychotic, have a drug or alcohol problem, are a compulsive gambler or can’t keep the household safe, obviously shared parenting won’t work,” Holstein said. “We don’t want to put judges into a strait jacket, but we do want to push them into the modern age.”

Linda Reutzel, a Cape Girardeau grandmother whose lobbying efforts led to the proposed Missouri legislation, said her son’s divorce case in 2014 convinced her that the state’s custody laws are unfair.

She said she was stunned when a judge limited her son’s visitation with his 3-year-old daughter to each Wednesday and every other weekend.

“We walked out thinking, what just happened?” Reutzel said. “Some guy who knows nothing about how close a daughter was to her daddy, to her mawmaw and everyone else, had the audacity to make us and her dad the visitors in her life.”

Vernon Scoville, a retired Jackson County judge who handled divorce cases for 22 years, said shared parenting is a nice goal, but there are too many variables in custody cases to remove discretion from the courts.

“One parent might live half an hour away, so who decides who goes to what school?” he said. “That’s why the concept of a primary physical custodian is so important.”

Scoville, who retired in 2013 as associate 16th Circuit Court judge and also served as a Democrat in the Missouri House, acknowledged that mothers are given physical custody more frequently than fathers. But taking away a judge’s ability to weigh specific problems when awarding custody is not the answer to any perceived inequity, he said.

“The hardest kinds of cases are not the ones where you have two bad parents, but when you have two great parents,” Scoville said. “I’ve had cases where parents sit there and say ‘yeah, he’s a great dad,’ or ‘yeah, she’s a great mother.’ But unless the kids live in the same school district, it’s almost impossible to come up with something that would facilitate equal parenting.”


Source: http://www.sfchronicle.com/living/article/Shared-parenting-drive-makes-its-way-to-Missouri-6831492.php

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5 thoughts on “Missouri Moving Towards Shared Parenting

  • Kyle

    What’s this mean for child support I mean a lot of fathers who are good dads don’t get time with there kids and end up broke because of child support how would this law change that I mean if it’s 5050 both parents should reason and help each other not one has to pay a lot of money a moth and the other one doesn’t

  • Cindy Thomas

    It only works when the father is a role model and not a thug. The child picks up bad examples and habits and comes home acting like a monster for several days. It’s really hard to raise a child with good morals and values when only one parent tries to set standards and expectations.
    I hope the judges don’t automatically grant every situation according to law but takes each case into account and what’s best for the child!!

    • Kyle

      Me and my ex girlfriend have 2 kids together and she’s going through a divorce with her husband and so where would this law help me I mean I know that they want the kids with the mom most of the time but I’m a good dad I work a full time job and I deserve to have my kids and I mean there mom refuses to let me have them right now and I’m not even on my sons birth certificate even though I know I signed the papers to be and her family talks bad about me all the time and says I did stuff to hurt them and I never did so when we go to court am I going to at least get a chance to have my kids on my own

  • Deeikee Mann El

    I would tend to think that since there is an obvious bias toward mothers in the court that anyone paying support who has been subject to organized infringement upon a protected right and should seek remedy in legal form. What’s been stated as evidence pertaining to statistical data concerning where custody has been awarded is gender based; If a man has the same right to his children then 50/50 is where custody should begin. Man should not have to fight in court to be awarded right to what is already his to start. It’s a shame it only took for personal legislature situation to have what is unfair from it inception to make its way into pending status. If it doesn’t pass it will be unfortunate that it continue to emotionally scar both children and loving fathers alike. Though it would also make sense for this equality to begin as early as to include fathers as expecting mothers from birth. We fight against symptoms but ignore the causes. If a father at birth recognizes and acknowledges he is a father of a child and confirms it on a legal affidavit i.e. Birth certificate and signs it! He has signed for legal custody and his right to this child. With or without a DNA sample. I think it only logical that if present and he request being the suspected father of child born a test can commence immediately following said request. The signing of papers won’t initiate any right. The assertion of right, and protection of right affords one the ability to operate within his/her right. If the state is only one of two parties and is biased in its ruling it would appear that it has an intrest in outcomes of custody cases and by law has trampled case by case the rights of defaulted losers with impunity. I am originally from the state of Missouri and a victim of the system in its current situation.

    • Kyle

      Well my whole thing is is that if/when we go to court there gonna award her custody even though If they seen the environment that our 2 kids but all 4 of her kids love in is disgusting they would say something but I just don’t see how they would give her full custody and give me visitation maybe and also make me pay child support even though I can’t afford that because I have to find a place of my own and I have to get another vehicle even though I’m paying the payments on mine already but she takes it from me even though she isint on the title and she drives it while she does not have a license she has a non drivers license and I mean I’ve called the law and they wouldn’t do anything and back to the children I love my kids like many fathers who are fighting and have no right to there kids and are paying a big amount of money and can’t afford to live all while the mother is getting all this money and isint using it for the kids but there own gain I have stressed so many nights and really hope that this law will go into affect and change this situation because I love my kids and need them