Local lawmakers push shared-parenting legislation

Kathy Swan

State Rep. Kathy Swan and state Sen. Wayne Wallingford are pushing legislation for shared parenting in custody cases.

Wayne Wallingford

The two Republican, Cape Girardeau lawmakers met recently with shared-parenting advocates in Cape Girardeau.

A documentary, “Erasing Family,” was shown Oct. 29 at The Concourse event center. The film explores the trauma experienced by children “when a loving, fit parent is erased from their lives due to separation and divorce,” said Linda Reutzel, who chairs the Missouri chapter of the National Parents Organization.

“Parents going through divorce should not fear losing significant parenting time with their children and, even more importantly, children should not feel abandoned by one of their parents,” she said in a news release.

State lawmakers need to impose a “legal presumption that parents will get equal time with their children,” Reutzel said.

Swan and Wallingford are sponsoring legislation which, Reutzel said, would change “the starting point to equal time from the old standard of every other weekend.”

Reutzel said, “When approximately 50% of marriages end in divorce and a consistent 40% of all Missouri births occur to unmarried parents, shared parenting is an issue for citizens here and across this state.”

Both Swan and Wallingford have advocated for shared parenting for several years.

“Children and families are being harmed every day,” Reutzel said. “These custody fights are putting unnecessary stress on parents and children; they are tying up our legal system and they are bankrupting families facing enormous legal bills.”

She said the legal fight, which starts in family court, many times continues through a child’s life.

“The 2020 legislative session provides Missouri the opportunity for real and positive change,” Reutzel said.

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