A growing national movement seeking to force judges to award equal custody to both divorcing parents has come to Missouri, where backers of shared parenting bills in both legislative chambers say the issue is gaining traction.
Current state law requires only that judges award “significant, but not necessarily equal” periods of time with a child. A Senate bill heard in committee last week would change that to “approximate and reasonably equal” time.
Proponents of the measure argue that in cases in which both parents are equally deserving of custody, courts disproportionately award physical custody to the mother.
Critics counter that while shared parenting makes sense on an emotional level, many factors make laws requiring equal time impractical or even dangerous for the children.
“We are trying to change the mindset of the court,” said Rep. Kathy Swan, a Cape Girardeau Republican who sponsored a duplicate shared parenting bill in her chamber. “The more time a child spends with each parent, the greater value each parent has in raising his or her child.”