ND shared parenting bill: Who benefits the most and how it impacts you and your family

Sean Kasson, an advocate for shared parenting, spoke with us about ND House Bill 1392 and how it would impact children and families.

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

(Please note - this transcript was copied from an electronic captioning service. We apologize for any errors, spelling, grammatical, or otherwise.)

Chris Berg:
The shared parenting bill, some people are wondering if the child's rights bill is heating up. How it can impact you and your family from a proponent, Sean Kasson. Sean Kasson joins us. Let's start with this. There is a lot of rumors going on. I've seen e-mails that are pointing at senator Kelly Armstrong and I believe it's wheeler, Tony wheeler, doing some things to manipulate if this bill passes or not. Let's stick to the facts tonight. No speculation. What's the latest?

Sean Kasson:
Yeah. So we received some e-mails through a public records request. I just wanted to make sure that we kind of know everything that's going on and making sure that the bill is heard fairly and that the committee is able to weigh the facts of what the bill is and on its merits. So through the public records request, we found, yeah, one that apparently the opposition in one e-mail feels that Senator Armstrong is going to kill it. When it's in the senate. This was about a little over a month ago. I don't see that. I saw a chairman that was in charge of the senate judiciary committee and was engaged and asked questions and I think he truly understands what's at stake here. So it was really concerning that they felt that people aren't listening about this and they are. And I think it was overwhelming in the house on how well it was received because in the house judiciary committee, it was a unanimous 15-0 upon even hearing the arguments raised by the opponents. So their concerns have been addressed in the revision of this bill, so I really disagree with the context of that e-mail that Senator Armstrong is going to kill it. I think he's going to weigh this and listen to the testimony that he already has heard. I have confidence in this committee.

CB:
Let's move on to this. Tony wheeler, head of the state bar association. In an e-mail that you guys got through this open records request, he says and I'm quoting, I'm walking a fine line as you know, but I want what is best for practitioners and those who need your help. I think couple things there. One is I'm hoping that most people see this bill as what's best for the kids, 'cause ultimately that's what we want. Number two, you see a lot of attorneys or some attorney attorneys, I should say, that are against this. Why would attorneys be against a parent -- shared parenting or child's right bill?

SK:
It's not all attorneys. We don't want to lump them in together. I know of several family law attorneys that are in support of this. And so yeah. The biggest thing that I see here is that I have such a hard time understanding whether it be such strong opposition on a bill or hopefully it becomes a law that is to unite and promote better parent-child relationships. And the only thing that stands any reason or rationale is the amount of money that goes into this. If you want to think of it as almost like dog fighting, it's watching two parents fight over their kids and there is so much money involved. You hear about 25,000, 50,000. Even $100,000 that parents are fighting over their kids. It's not even really all the times where you think of these most horrendous cases. Sometimes they're battling over just who is slightly better. Kids don't need to know who is the better parent, who --

CB:
I don't want to put words in your mouth. What I'm hearing you say is the reason people who stand to gain the most out of not passing this bill are these family law attorneys 'cause they can cash in. Don't want to put words in your mouth, but is that what you're saying?

SK:
Yes, it is. The status quo encourages conflict. You pit two parents against each other, so when you do that, you create conflict, you create competition. The money flows. And it's a huge, huge industry across the nation. $50 billion.

CB:
How would this bill cause these attorneys to lose money and then ultimately help kids?

SK:
If you think about it, we're kind of flipping it on its head. The first of all, it's Paramount that the child's interest remains top priority. What this does is when you insert a presumption, it's reflective of the social science. Most people are good people, good parents. So why are we fighting about it? So instead of saying, prepare for battle and fight and see who wins, how about we come in and start at kind of a neutral plain and say, show me why fighting is necessary. That's the kind of one on one attorney-client conversation attention I would expect to see out of this if it were to pass and say this bill recognizes what's best for kids. It's for you two to focus on the parents and not fight. Please show me why one of your -- why your case is in the minority of cases that we should be going to court over this.

CB:
30 seconds left. Where is this bill currently at? What's the next step? If people aren't getting involved in this, what should they be doing?

SK:
The senate judiciary committee took testimony on the 8th, I believe, waiting for either them to give a do pass or do not pass recommendation. Hopefully a do pass. But I would encourage those that are interested and to give support, visit web site we started, NDkidswin.org. On there you can find senator contact information. It will show the committee members. E-mail them, let them know your thoughts and hopefully support this bill.

CB:
Sean Kasson, thank you for your time.

SK:
Thank you very much.



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