For several years a few legislators here in South Carolina have attempted to bring justice and fairness to the Family Court Industry for children involved in divorce and custody cases.
In this Legislative session, the front runner for Family Court Reform is House Representative Stewart Jones and his Custody Reform Bill H3569. Representative Jones is known throughout his district and the state to be a Family Values legislator. Many who have spoken with him concerning matters in South Carolina have stated that Jones is a down-to-earth person and truly cares for the issues he represents, especially including children.
For many children in the state of South Carolina, Family Courts mean losing a loved parent (if not an entire side of their family), by questionable Judges’ decisions. Shared Parenting would prevent this long-standing practice from continuing.
So, what is Shared Parenting? Well according to Wikipedia.com, Shared parenting, is a child custody arrangement after divorce or separation, in which both parents share the responsibility of raising their child(ren), with equal or close to equal parenting time. A regime of shared parenting is based on the idea that children have the right to and benefit from a close relationship with both their parents and that no child should be separated from a parent.
All too often parents are made to be visitors to their own child or children and lose the right to parent. For most Non-Custodial parents (which is what they are called) this means the standard every other weekend visit with their child or children. Non-Custodial Parents lose all decision-making capabilities for the upbringing of their child or children. Even getting their child something as simple as a haircut has to be asked permission from the custodial parent.
Although, Non-Custodial Parents still maintain the right to their child or children’s educational and medical records they have no input in either.
South Carolina currently only recognizes Joint Custody and Sole Custody of children in divorce and custody cases. In both one parent is reduced down to very little or no meaningful interaction with their own child. This limited contact even separates children from their loving grandparents, uncles, and other family members. Erasing an entire side of the child’s heritage and family.
When asked why he filed this bill, Rep. Jones replied, “I filed South Carolina House bill 3569 to help ensure that children have equal access to both parents – ensuring that the best interest of the child is the guiding factor. Anytime a good parent is denied shared custody it is a great injustice that causes compounding problems in children, and furthermore in society as a whole.”
South Carolina is one of the last states that has not passed a Shared Parenting bill, guaranteeing children equal access to both parents.
As of the publishing of this article House Bill 3569 has a total of 53 legislative co-signers. This is the most any shared parenting bill has had in South Carolina. One of the things that makes this bill more unique than other bills is that this issue crosses party lines, 10 Democrats have signed on with 43 Republicans to ensure our children’s rights are enforced in Family Courts. We have been told that more co-signers are expected prior to this bill receiving a hearing.
John Gallman, who ran against Sen. Luke Rankin during the last election, has been a long-standing Family Court Reform supporter and advocate. “Jesus once said: ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.’ (Luke 18:16). The reality is case law in South Carolina would make it incredibly difficult for Jesus to be a father. Currently, in South Carolina when custody is contested one parent wins and one parent loses. The tragic reality is, in contested custody cases in South Carolina the child always loses. The overwhelming social science supports children fairing better by every metric in shared parenting arrangements even when the custody is contested. Social science backs shared parenting as being in the best interest of children, the legislative body backs shared parenting as being in the best interest of children, as evidenced by over 50 cosponsors for this bill. And the people of South Carolina (parents/grandparents) overwhelmingly back equal and shared custody as being in the best interest of children. The absolute best support a child can receive is enjoying equal and shared parenting. I am hopeful and optimistic this bill will pass unanimously and believe that the best is yet to come for South Carolina children as we put their best interest first and foremost and pass equal and shared parenting for children. The children of South Carolina deserve this protection and equality.”
This bill would also require Family Court Judges prior to altering from a shared parenting plan to review factual evidence, deviating from the long-outdated rule of “preponderance of the evidence”.