Bill before legislature could impact child custody in divorce cases


TOPEKA, Kan. (KSN CAPITOL BUREAU)  – A new bill at the state capitol could impact the way custody is decided in divorce proceedings.

“It’s absolutely soul crushing to have all those moments lost with my kids, ” explained Ron Holm of Kansas City, Kansas.

Holm said his divorce is why he is hoping for change.

“I went from being a stay at home parent to every other weekend and Wednesday night,” added Holm.

Holm works for the National Parents Organization-Kansas Chapter. The group is pushing for changes in the way custody is given during divorce cases.

“What most often happens in the court room is an every-other-weekend parenting plan,” explained Holm.

A proposed bill put forward by Republican State Senator Steve Fitzgerald, who is also running for Congress, would give parents equal or close to equal custody of their kids.

Currently, judges are not required to grant equal custody at the start of a divorce proceeding.

“We’re saying you should start off on an even keel, where it’s presumed that we’re going to have equal or roughly equal time for each parent,” explained Fitzgerald.

Under the bill, there would need to be clear evidence why parents shouldn’t be granted equal custody.

“If you’re going to accuse somebody of things like spousal abuse, drug use, and abuse of alcohol, things of that nature, where is your evidence and is that evidence really convincing,” said Fitzgerald.

Boyd McPherson, a family attorney for Joseph Hollander & Craft in Wichita, has concerns about the bill.

“The real-life application of a presumption or a default law like that could be very detrimental to the children versus a benefit,” explained McPherson.

McPherson explained the way a judge grants custody now is working and giving parents equal time might end up doing more harm to a child’s schedule.

“How in every single case do we know that the location geographically of the children is going to be conducive of shared parenting time? How do we know the work schedule of the parents is going to be conducive of shared parenting time,” said Mcpherson.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to have a public hearing on the bill Tuesday.

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