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SD Senate defeats shared parenting

PIERRE -- Senators voted 21-13 Thursday against proposed changes to South Dakota's child custody laws, which would have put parents on equal footing at the start of a custody proceeding. It would have required a parent to prove to a judge why he or she should have a greater share of the custody.

Sen. Tim Begalka, R-Clear Lake, said divorced parents often feel they didn't get a fair shake and are financially broke. He wants fathers on the same plane as mothers in custodial disputes. "The populace of South Dakota is overwhelmingly in favor of this, in my opinion," he said. He wept as he finished his closing speech.

Sen. Deb Peters, R-Hartford, said many people reach custody agreements without needing judges to solve the differences. She said the bill would have wiped out some of the changes made by the Legislature last year.