Senate rejects 'shared parenting' bill

Apr 20, 2017

Sen. Nichole Poolman (R-Bismarck).
Credit ND Legislature

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

The State Senate has rejected a “shared parenting” bill.

The measure would have required courts to consider granting “shared parenting” time to divorced parents – if one parent asks for it. It said that time would be anywhere between 35 and 50 percent. And the judge had to spell out the reasons for ruling either in favor of it or against it.

Earlier in the day, it passed the House. Rep. Shannon Roers-Jones (R-Casselton) said one of the amendments changed the language in the bill from "equal parenting" to "shared parenting," since time splits between parents could range from 50/50 to 65/35. She said the amendments will limit the non-custodial parent's opportunities to bring parenting time back to court in retaliatory manners. She called it a good compromise.

"It's not as much as the supporters wanted, but it's a good starting place," Roers-Jones said.

Senate opponents – like Sen. Nichole Poolman (R-Bismarck) – said voters have rejected shared parenting initiatives – most recently in 2014.

"After a session where we have tried so hard to rewrite a marijuana law to honor the will of the voters, it seems odd to me that we would say we didn't care what voters thought two years ago," Poolman said.

Poolman told her Senate colleagues 62% of voters said 'no' to shared parenting in 2014, and the measure carried zero districts.

Sen. Carolyn Nelson (D-Fargo) said the issue was thoroughly studied in the 2007-2009 biennium – and a report was issued after the study finished.

"Besides having an election two years ago, where the people said 'no,' and the study on the shelf, and at least 5 sessions of this bill being here, I, too, am going to vote 'n0,' Nelson said.

The measure failed on a 31-12 vote.