The momentum of Equal Shared Parenting bills sweeping the country continues as the Missouri House passed SB35, sponsored by Senator Karla May, in the final minutes of the 2023 legislative session. Similar legislation has already passed in Kentucky, Arkansas, West Virginia and two weeks ago in Florida.
Instead of being relegated to an every other weekend visitor with one parent, children in Missouri will now begin with the presumption that it is in their best interest to have equal access to both parents. Numerous studies show that children do better socially, academically, emotionally and mentally when given equal access to both of their parents after divorce or separation.
Mark Ludwig, Founder of Americans for Equal Shared Parenting, stated “Children are already traumatized enough when they find out their parents are no longer together. Then, they immediately have one parent ripped out of their life who they visit every other weekend. They end up with a sense of confusion, hurt, resentment, and a void which ends up manifesting down the road as behavioral problems, drug use, violent crime, incarceration and in some cases suicide.”
Representative Jim Murphy was the House handler for the bill who added, “This is not a rubber stamp for all cases. This is merely a starting point allowing children equal access to both parents when a case begins. The bill has many safeguards which allow Judges to determine if there are situations when this presumption should not apply, as when a court finds a pattern of domestic violence has occurred.”
The equal shared parenting language was added from a bill sponsored by Senator Rick Brattin. The original portion of the bill sponsored by Senator Karla May includes language which provide due process to consider an obligor’s ability to pay, need for transportation and need for a license for continued employment prior to the suspension of a business, occupational, professional, or other license if an obligor falls behind on child support.