North Dakota,Shared parenting,Medical cannabis,Divorce,Parent

McFeely: Shared parenting rears head in ND again, this time in Legislature

February 12, 2017

FARGO—We've spent time in this space discussing how the North Dakota Legislature is ignoring the will of the people by carving up an initiated measure legalizing medical marijuana that was approved by nearly 64 percent of the voters. The point is not medical marijuana. How you feel about that should be irrelevant. The point is lawmakers are disregarding the voice of the people, who overwhelmingly told state government they wanted something done a certain way. Tweaks are OK. Wholesale re-writing is not. Ignoring the will of the people can work in reverse, too. That would be the case with House Bill 1392, which revives the specter of shared parenting in North Dakota. If that phrase, shared parenting, sounds familiar, that's because voters have twice in the past decade rejected shared parenting measures at the ballot box. Both times, they were rejected resoundingly. This time, some of the same advocates behind the initiatives are trying to work the Legislature to get their wishes. Shared parenting is the concept of both parents having equal time and responsibility determinations in child custody or divorce arrangements. The basic idea is that both parents are presumed fit to care for the child, both get the child 50 percent of the time and both have an equal say in all decisions regarding the child. Typically, child custody arrangements give one parent sole custody (usually the mother) and the other parent (usually the father) visitation rights. There are exceptions when couples decide on joint custody or other non-traditional arrangements. Shared parenting has become a rallying point for "dad's rights" or "men's rights" groups who believe they've been short-changed in custody proceedings. There's been a push for shared parenting in recent years in many states, without much success. Generally, opponents of shared parenting believe the effort is more about satisfying aggrieved dads than what's good for children and that splitting everything 50-50—especially custody time and decision-making—is arbitrary and often unworkable. Shared parenting backers succeeded in getting Measure 6 on the North Dakota ballot in 2014. It called for "a presumption that each parent is a fit parent and entitled to be awarded equal parental rights and...

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