For years now in South Carolina there have been many individuals who have pushed for what is known as “Shared Parenting“.
What is Shared Parenting? Well to put it plainly it is maintaining an equal amount of parenting time in the lives of children after or during a divorce and among non-married parents. Over 20 States have adopted this practice over the last few years beginning with Kentucky in 2018. Family Courts are ruled by “The Best Interest of The Child” standard, but for the most part do not see that this is served by a child maintaining both parents in their lives equally.
Over the last 10 years several Grassroot Groups such as the National Parents Organization, the Father’s Rights Movement, the Americans Coalition for Fathers and Children, Children’s Rights Council, Dad’s Divorce, Dads America, The Father’s Rights Network, Father’s 4 Kids, etc. have sprung up over night. These organizations seek to change how Family Courts view what is in “the best interest of the child”, by ensuring that children maintain equal contact with both of their parents.
Here in South Carolina where divorce is 2.5% of 1000 per population ranks it among one of the highest states. This means that thousands of children are losing one parent daily. In 2018, 429,000 children lived in single parent homes, that was 41% of all children in South Carolina.
It is not hard to see the statistical data that exists when it comes to why Shared Parenting is important in the lives of children.
So, who would oppose something that would benefit children? Well, here in South Carolina several Legislators are practicing Family Court Attorneys. These Legislator/Attorneys make their main revenue from billable hours in their law practices. The longer a case drags out the more money they can make.
House Bill 3295 a shared parenting bill sponsored by Rep. Jason Eliott was openly blocked by Rep. Elizabeth Bernstein (D-Richland County) who sits on the House Judiciary and Ethics Committees, and is a practicing attorney. HB3295 would have given children equal time with both parents during and after a custody issue, and thereby eliminating a long drawn out custody battle. If there were issues such as allegations of abuse then it would have had to been proven with factual evidence, eliminating the long standing practice of “Preponderance of the Evidence Rule” used currently in Family Courts.
Again eliminating long billable hours for attorneys.
Senator Luke Rankin, is another opposition to Shared Parenting as he sits on the Judiciary Merits Committee who screens Family Court Judges. Sen. Rankin has allowed questionable individuals to take the bench when factual evidence was given to the committee showing these individuals should not be passed to be a Family Court Judge. Sen. Rankin is also a practicing attorney who’s firm handles Family Court cases.
At no point are children given the opportunity to state on the record their wishes.
Now let us also state that not every Legislator/Attorney is against Shared Parenting. HB3295 had 14 Representatives signed on. These individuals sought to change things for the betterment of children in Family Courts.
Representative Jason Elliott [R], Representative Roy Magnuson [R], Representative Steven Long [R], Representative Jonathon Hill [R], Representative James Burns [R], Senator Dwight Loftis [R], Representative Garry Smith [R], Representative Nancy Mace [R], Representative Ashley Trantham [R], Representative Adam Morgan [R], Representative Stewart Jones [R], Representative Timothy McGinnis [R], Representative Tommy Stringer [R], and Representative Chip Huggins [R] were all signed on to support HB3295.
As this bill never came before the House Judiciary Committee it was killed by constantly being delayed by the Committee. The sponsors of this bill wrote a letter demanding it come to a hearing, when Covid-19 arrived and the Committee used this opportunity to further delay its hearing until it died.
This news outlet did a story on the money that Family Courts generate for Attorney’s and the State called Divorce the Money Maker. How much is a childhood worth? How much is a child maintaining both loving parents in their life worth?
The Grassroots movements who aided in putting this bill together have stated they will have it refiled for the next coming session and will this time make sure that it is Publicly known that this bill exists and its purpose to benefit children.