“We have a real problem and you know it or you wouldn’t be here,” state Sen. Wayne Wallingford told the crowd of about 30. “The ones that really get hurt are the children. … When you go from being a parent to a visitor, something’s wrong.”
The meeting was hosted by Americans For Equal Shared Parenting, a group committed to reforming the way judges award child custody after parents divorce.
State Reps. Kathy Swan of Cape Girardeau and Rick Francis of Perryville also attended the meeting. The legislators said there are plans to prefile at least one bill in December designed to put mothers and fathers on equal footing instead of granting mothers a prefunctory advantage. The bill — which will be a revised version of one previously submitted — would seek to impose “rebuttable presumption of equally shared parenting,” requiring judges to begin with the presumption both parents are “fit and willing,” explained Linda Reutzel, the state chairwoman for the National Parents Organization.