Senate bill on joint custody dies; House bill proceedsWhile HB 1055 would allow a judge to grant joint physical custody, it would not require the conversation to use 50-50 custody as a starting point.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
PIERRE — A Senate bill that sought to grant parents an even playing field for obtaining joint physical custody failed to pass Thursday through the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee discussed both SB 60 and House Bill 1055, which also deals with joint physical custody. The House bill was passed.
While HB 1055 would allow a judge to grant joint physical custody, it would not require the conversation to use 50-50 custody as a starting point, as SB 60 sought to do.
Sen. Tim Begalka, R-Clear Lake, said he was disappointed SB 60 didn’t pass, but said HB 1055 is at least a starting point.
“This will introduce to our law the concept of joint physical custody, which is seldom done by judges,” he said. Begalka plans to work with Sen. Eldon Nygaard, R-Vermillion, to propose an amendment to HB 1055 on the Senate floor Monday. Begalka said many senators from last year that voted “no” will likely vote in favor after hearing about the need for a joint physical custody law from their constituents. During the hearing Thursday, several people testified in favor of SB 60 and HB 1055 as complementary bills.
Casey Wilson, a divorced father of three and Plankinton native, said the bills would help give non-custodial parents the ability to spend more time with their children. He said SB 60 would give non-custodial parents the ability to give a more stable environment to their children by providing them with both mother and father involvement.
Some proponents of HB 1055 said SB 60 does not represent the best interests of children and only stands to benefit the outcome for parents. Others testified that both bills would benefit not only their children but also non-custodial and custodial parents by providing a more structured, stable environment for children. Many who testified were either fathers who do not have custody of their children or those in support of non-custodial parents.
After discussion ended, the committee members voted on both SB 60 and HB 1055. The committee voted 6-1 to pass HB 1055, which will now go to the Senate floor Monday. The committee voted 5-2 to kill SB 60.