Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New shared parenting initiative

N. Dakota has a shared parenting initiative on the Nov. ballot:
North Dakota Shared Parenting for Kids (NDSP4K) has one goal - To provide children the opportunity for a full relationship with both parents regardless of the parents present marital status. To accomplish this objective NDSP4K has gathered more than enough signatures from our state's citizens to put the measure on the November ballot.

Here is the NEW language the measure will add to our existing child custody statutes:

1. It is the policy of the State of North Dakota that no requesting biological or adoptive parent shall be denied equal parental rights and responsibilities, equal parenting time, equal primary residential responsibility, and equal decision making responsibility of a child in a custody case. It is the policy of the state of North Dakota to presume that parents are fit and an award to both parents of equal parental rights and responsibilities, equal parenting time, equal primary residential responsibility, and equal decision making responsibility of a child is in the best interest of the child. The presumption of fitness as a parent shall only be rebutted upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence. The court shall support departures from equal parenting time with written findings of fact and conclusions of law. Fit parents may petition the court for a hearing which the court shall grant to support this statute. The provisions of this section control other provisions of state law that conflict with or are contrary to its provisions.

For the purpose of parental rights and responsibilities, the best interests and welfare of the child is determined by the court's consideration and evaluation of all factors affecting the best interests and welfare of the child. These factors include all of the following when applicable:
a. The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parents and child and the ability of each parent to provide the child with nurture, love, affection, and guidance.
b. The ability of each parent to assure that the child receives adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and a safe environment.
c. The child's developmental needs and the ability of each parent to meet those needs, both in the present and in the future.
d. The sufficiency and stability of each parent's home environment, the impact of extended family, the length of time the child has lived in each parent's home, and the desirability of maintaining continuity in the child's home and community.
e. The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child. f. The moral fitness of the parents, as that fitness impacts the child.
g. The mental and physical health of the parents, as that health impacts the child.
h. The home, school, and community records of the child and the potential effect of any change.
i. If the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that a child is of sufficient maturity to make a sound judgment, the court may give substantial weight to the preference of the mature child. The court also shall give due consideration to other factors that may have affected the child's preference, including whet her the child's
preference was based on undesirable or improper influences.
j. Evidence of domestic violence. In determining parental rights and responsibilities, the court shall consider
evidence of domestic violence. If the court finds credible evidence that domestic violence has occurred, and there exists one incident of domestic violence which resulted in serious bodily injury or involved the use of a dangerous weapon or there exists a pattern of domestic violence within a reasonable time proximate to the proceeding, this combination creates a rebuttable presumption that a parent who has perpetrated domestic violence may not be awarded residential responsibility for the child. This presumption may be overcome only by clear and convincing evidence that the best interests of the child require that parent have residential responsibility. The court shall cite specific findings of fact to show that the residential responsibility best protects the child and the parent or other family or household member who is the victim of domestic violence. If necessary to protect the welfare of the child, residential responsibility for a child may be awarded to a suitable third person, provided that the person would not allow access to a violent parent except as ordered by the court. If the court awards residential responsibility to a third person, the court shall give priority to the child's nearest suitable adult relative. The fact
that the abused parent suffers from the effects of the abuse may not be grounds for denying that parent residential responsibility. As used in this subdivision, "domestic violence" means domestic violence as defined in section 14-07.1-01. A court may consider, but is not bound by, a finding of domestic violence in another proceeding under chapter 14-07.1.k. The interaction and interrelationship, or the potential for interaction and interrelationship, of the child with any person who resides in, is present, or frequents the household of a parent and who may significantly affect the child's best in terests. The court shall consider that person's history of inflicting, or tendency to inflict, physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the fear of physical harm, bodily injury, or assault, on other persons.
l. The making of false allegations not made in good faith, by one parent against the other, of harm to a child as defined in section 50-25.1-02.m. Any other factors considered by the court to be relevant to a particular parental rights and responsibilities
2. In any proceeding under this chapter, the court, at any stage of the proceedings after final judgment, may make orders about what security is to be given for the care, custody, and support of the unmarried minor children of the marriage as from the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case is equitable.
3. “Equal parenting time” is defined as a rebuttable presumption of approximate and reasonable equal time-sharing of a child with both of the child’s parents or a mutually agreed and signed parenting plan between the parents.
This is better than I expected. I hope it passes. This is a good sign. It has some support from shared parenting organizations.


HeligKo said...

I hope it has teeth. In my state the presumption is there, but all it took was a GAL to decide that it needed to be otherwise. BIOTCh is still the ghost in the machine that can change everything. The court also has discretion to view siblings as a group or as individuals, and the tendency is to choose the way that supports what the court wants. I hope ND has a strong appeals process to break the status quot in the court system.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see some consequences for a parent, usually the mother, making false abuse allegations.
I believe Dad's are just as important as mothers. I don't think this fact should translate into shared physical custody. I think any judge, GAL, or other do-gooder, should be forced to live as a shared custody child for at least one year before having any say so. Pack your stuff up EVERY week for a trip to dad's; pack up again when you return to mom's; make new friends when the old ones move on because you are never available because mom and dad's schedules are different and your friends can't ever reliably figure out where you are; go without your favorite game because its at dad's; get to know step mom real good cause you see her more than dad or mom because they work.
Man, divorce sucks for kids! No one seems to GET IT. What adult would ever CHOOSE to live in 2 different homes? I don't know a single person who resides in 2 homes. Going to my summer cabin it hard enough. I'm happy when summer ends and I get to stay home.
My kids are lucky cause dad lives only 2 blocks away. They can go see him whenever they want, even during "my time", plus they can leave his house when his behavior becomes abusive, which only occurs about 4-5 times a year. Had my kids been forced into equal physical custody they would be basket cases by now.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I LOVE your blog, George! You have great content and comment, even when I disagree with you.

George said...

Actually, there are lots of adults who live in two different homes. It is common for a guy to sleepover at his girlfriend's apartment 2 or 3 times a week.