I am certain that a lot of family law attorneys, like myself, were paying very close attention to this legislative session. This is because of House Bill 1392 and the change it could have in family law proceedings. Just a brief recap for those who didn’t pay attention to this contentious piece of legislation, House Bill 1392 is a shared parenting initiative brought forth by our legislators. While it is similar to the North Dakota Parental Rights Initiative, it is not identical. My previous blog article titled “What is best for your children after divorce?” gives you an in-depth view of House Bill 1392.
If the bill had passed Senate, and Governor Burgum signed House Bill 1392, then an initial proceeding dealing with parental rights and responsibilities would be different after August 1, 2017. As explained in another blog post, titled “Wondering How the Shared Parenting Bill in North Dakota Could Impact Your Custody Situation?”, House Bill 1392 would require the Court to explain its reasoning for awarding or not awarding shared parenting time and residential responsibility. Contrary to the belief of many, House Bill 1392, in its amended form, does not appear to create any sort of presumption as it relates to shared parenting.
At the present time, there is no mention of shared parenting time and residential responsibility contained in the North Dakota Century Code Chapter 14-09. Rather, the Court analyzes the best interests and welfare of any child by addressing a number of factors found in North Dakota Century Code Section 14-09-06.2(1)(a)-(m). These are commonly referred to as the best interest factors. After addressing these factors and their applicability to each party, the Court implements a parenting plan. This parenting plan can award a parent primary residential responsibility, parenting time, or equal residential responsibility. The Court, in its analysis, typically explains its reasoning for the amount of parenting time each party receives, but House Bill 1392 would make it a statutory requirement.
While House Bill 1392 was heavily modified as it progressed through the legislative process, many were hoping it would pass and ultimately be signed by Governor Burgum. This will not be the case. On April 19, 2017, House Bill 1392 passed the House with a 70 to 21 vote. The demise of House Bill 1392 occurred in the Senate later that day. House Bill 1392 failed in the Senate with a vote of 12 to 31. Even though there won’t be any changes to the way initial proceedings dealing with parental rights and responsibilities are handled and ultimately decided, House Bill 1392 certainly created a lot of hype around the issue of shared parenting.
I am certain that both proponents and opponents will continue to fight vigorously to protect the best interests of the children in North Dakota. That being said, the shared parenting initiative appears to be gaining momentum and attention throughout the United States, and I am certain we will see similar legislation, or another initiated measure, brought forth in the very near future.
If you find yourself in a contentious custody battle, please give us a call. At SW&L, we have attorneys who handle family law cases, including custody related issues. If you have a family law issue that you would like to discuss, please do not hesitate to call our Family Law Team at 701-297-2890 or send us an email below.