The Senate has passed the so-called "shared parenting" bill, which establishes a presumptive 35 to 50 percent of time spent with each parent of children in a custody case.
That means the bill assumes equal parenting time is best for children. Senator Kelly Armstrong of Dickinson supports the bill. He says the bill would not apply to every single custody proceeding, and that each custody proceeding would start from scratch. He says the bill came out of committee on a 5 to 1 do pass recommendation.
"What this will do, and I don't think any side is truly happy - is articulate any reasons why so if any of those standards would change significantly in two years, there would be a bonafide reason where you could go into court and say, 'Listen, I no longer live 400 miles away from my son or daughter, I now live in the same community, so if that was the reason my parenting arrangement was truncated we should rearrange that and readdress that at that point in time.' This only applies to the initial proceeding, and as the bill is written now would not be retroactive to any cases."
Fargo Senator Carolyn Nelson says she doesn't see much of a point in passing the bill. She says the legislation doesn't accomplish much.
"35 percent, in case you haven't done the math, is about 126 days, and if one of the parents happens to be an over-the-road trucker, for instance, or a traveling salesman and is gone 5 days a week, only available on weekends - those types of things - the 126 days would maybe amount to summer, plus Christmas and Easter, plus a few weekends. But it's hard to figure out if you are locked into a minimum of 126 how that's going to work. It would work for some, but not for others."
The bill passed on a vote of 28 to 19.