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HOME   LETTER or Emails From the SDCSP President

Senator Schoenbeck, thank you for this opportunity. Please know that I am
pretty much a "straight shooter". I am not a politician and I will be brief.
I want to be open and up front about this as I hope you will be.

In order for the legislators to send a clear message to the UJS and so that
there is no confusion, I believe it is important to address "maximizing the
amount of parenting time with a child" in this bill. This reflects the
Wisconsin law and I know we have better parents in South Dakota than in
Wisconsin. I would encourage the following change (in black)- as you have
seen a couple days ago.

parenting schedule that allows the child to have regularly occurring,
meaningful periods of physical placement with each parent and that maximizes
the amount of time the child may spend with each parent, taking into account
geographic separation and accommodations for different households. These

Here is why it is important (excerpts from the Wisconsin bar analysis of
their custody reform in 2000).

Briefly, the review of "Maximization of placement" is described as:

The most important change to their placement law. This presumes an equal
placement schedule for two parents who live in the same neighborhood, or in
the same school district. But equal placement would be a practical
impossibility in cases of a substantial geographic separation.

Regularly occurring and meaningful placement with each parent also means
that courts must avoid the overly simplistic solution of awarding school
year placement to one parent and summer placement to the other parent.
Instead, the placement with each parent needs to be regular so that the
child can maintain and develop a relationship with each parent. The
requirement that the placement be meaningful directs the court to set a
placement schedule that allows for more time than a few hours each week for
dinner. Time is a crucial component in giving both parent and child an
opportunity to adjust to placement transitions and fully develop their

This is the "meat" of what we are trying to do. If adding this means it
will fail, then no change is warranted at this time and we will try to get
this added on the House side. The rest of the bill is good. I can tell
you though, I have talked with many noncustodial and custodial parents
across the state, especially in the last two weeks and this is an important
part of this bill and will satisfy them greatly. It is then up to the judge
to deviate from there for compelling reasons. It is a common sense,
Constitutional approach in comparison to the winner/loser, perverse system
we currently have.

I have also attached an E-mail I sent to Linda Lea Viken this morning, which
will clarify this in greater detail and provide insight to our current
standard guidelines. I hope you have the time to review it.


Steve Mathis

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