“I spent 6 years trying see my daughter”, Lance tells me.  Thousands of dollars in court and attorney fees.  To no avail.

South Dakota, prior to Lance’s crusade, did not have any laws in place that addressed certain parenting situations.  Because he was not married to the biological mother, he was having trouble being able to see his daughter.  He wanted shared custody. He didn’t get it. 

Frustrated about his inability to get shared custody, he took action. His mission was to get a new law passed to protect parents who are unable to see their children.  He hired an attorney.  He lobbied.

In 2014, South Dakota passed a “Shared Parenting Law”. 

Did this law fix the problem?

This “law”, seems to be more of a guideline.  If the case goes to court, the judge still has discretion in his ultimate decision. 

Why is the law so vague about custody structure?  Because both parents have valid view points.  So, resolving custody in the divorce process can be a tough battle. 

Custody is a tough topic to write about, because the details vary state to state.  It’s not black and white.  It’s gray.  And the shade of gray depends on what state you live in.

If you have unanswered questions,  be prepared to research.  Unless you are willing to pay.  Attorneys charge by the hour, typically.   

Many states have “Shared Parenting Laws” or guidelines that can be used as a starting point for parents to base their custody arrangement on.

My advice: settle out of court.  It will save money and stress in the divorce process.

Agreeing on custody is a tough task. So be realistic.  Put the children’s interest first.  Your children should be the #1 priority in the divorce.  Put their best interest in front of your own. 

It seems like states are moving towards the 50/50 custody split.  Keep that in mind as you negotiate.

Consider negotiating different variations of physical custody, legal custody, the schedule.  Or negotiate tax filing status and exemptions.   

Keep calm.  Be pleasant.  You attract more bees with honey than vinegar.

Thank you to Lance for allowing me to interview him about his involvement of South Dakota’s Shared Parenting Law.