House passes 'shared parenting' bill

Feb 22, 2017

Rep. Shannon Roers-Jones (R-Fargo).
Credit Courtesy ND Legislature

The House has passed a “shared parenting” bill that supporters say is much better than the initiated measures voters rejected.

The bill says there is a “rebuttable presumption” that divorced parents should equally share custody of their children. The bill says it could be 50-50, but could be as low a percentage as 65-35. But Rep. Shannon RoersJones (R-Fargo) said the judge will still have the final say concerning custody.

"The judge has the discretion to make any award of parenting time they feel is appropriate for the circumstances, as long as they give an explanation," Roers-Jones said.

Roers-Jones said it’s a good compromise – that still respects what’s best for the child.

However, some Legislators were wary on the measure, given the failure of the shared parenting initiatives.

"The courts already have all the discretion they need," said  Rep. Robin Weisz (R-Hurdsfield). "If both sides agree, there's no issue. I think we should leave it to the judges."

The bill passed 71 to 21 – and will now be considered in the Senate.