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NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

August 29th, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
The battle for equal parenting continues.  This article tells us that there’s to be a referendum on the issue in Walsh County, North Dakota, come November (InForum, 8/28/12).

Walsh County voters will be the first in the state to vote on a countywide shared-parenting initiative when they go to the polls in November.

County Auditor Sharon Kinsala said she has verified 787 of more than 800 signatures on the petition submitted by Mitch Sanderson, a Park River resident. A total of 742 signatures were required to place the measure on the ballot…

The measure, if passed, would establish equal parental rights if the couple is divorced or separated, as long as neither parent is legally determined as unfit to be a parent.

Apparently, Sanderson spearheaded a drive to place a similar measure on the ballot in 2006.  That measure failed by a 57% – 43% margin, but Sanderson seems undeterred.  It’s worth mentioning that, unlike much state law, this measure would at least conform to Supreme Court precedent that prohibits states from removing or diminishing a parent’s rights without a finding of unfitness.  As countless fathers can attest, states violate that restriction on their power every day, many times a day.

Indeed, it could be argued that the standard visitation order – Mom gets primary custody and Dad gets to see the kids every other weekend – does exactly that.  But the separation of children from their fathers based on false allegations of abuse clearly does so as does the failure to enforce visitation as do adoption laws that deprive fathers of the ability to contest their child’s adoption, as does the standard CPS practice of not informing fathers when children are taken into foster care, etc.

Will Sanderson’s ballot initiative carry the day?  We’ll see come November 7, but, win, lose or draw, the fight for equal parental rights goes on.  That train has left the station and it’s not coming back.  It’s moving down the track until it reaches its destination.

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