WHEREAS: Children have the right to equal, responsible shared parenting, equal access and opportunity with both parents, the right to be guided and nurtured by both parents and the right to have decisions made by the use of both parentsí wisdom, judgment and experience.
WHEREAS: Equal, shared parenting time or joint physical custody is the optimal custody situation and responsibility in all areas of a childís life should be distributed co-equally between parents.
WHEREAS: Grandparents and extended relatives who are close to children should have rights and access to their grandchildren and relatives.
WHEREAS: Due to the emotional trauma inherit in the divorce and/or litigation process, one parent or both parents may not be prepared for the duel parenting role that is necessary to fulfill their role as equal, active, and nurturing parents to their children and require a rehabilitation plan to assure shared parenting in the future.
WHEREAS: Parent Alienation, the creation of a singular relationship between a child and one parent, to the exclusion of another parent, is becoming an increasingly harmful side-effect for children of separation and divorce.
WHEREAS: There is a increasing rate of fatherless children in our country. It is documented that more than 80 % of divorced-family children are in sole mother-custody homes, half with almost no contact with dads
WHEREAS: Current research documents that children are less likely to do well in single-parent, mother-headed homes. Such children are more likely to have serious psychological problems, drop out of school, become involved in serious felonies before the age of 18, give birth out of wedlock, run away from home and quit school prior to graduation. All of these problems have been directly tied to the incidence of family breakup.
WHEREAS: It is documented fact that women initiate nearly 75% of divorces, and that as many as 7 out of 10 are initiated against the expressed desires of their husbands.
WHEREAS: The effects on children of separation and divorce are not temporary stressors but rather long-term influences.
WHEREAS: Families, whether together or apart, are the cornerstone of American life and have a signficant and vital effect upon the childís growth and development for becoming a socially responsible citizen of our Country.
WHEREAS: Every year, a significant number of family members lose their homes, their children, their life savings, their jobs, their future income and their dignity fighting in the court system to win control of their children. Regardless of whether the father or mother wins, the children are guaranteed to lose.
WHEREAS: Many times, the loving relationship that a child once shared with two parents is destroyed by one parent abusing his or her custodial control or seeking revenge on the other parent without any thought what is in the best interest of the child.
WHEREAS: It is clear, as we move into the year 2000 and in light of the breakdown of families in our Country today, that both parents should affirmatively assist and encourage each otherís efforts to have a strong parenting role in their childrenís lives.
WHEREAS: It is of great importance for the State of South Dakota to discourage the destruction of families in the first place, and where such a result cannot be avoided, attempt to mitigate the damage to our children to the fullest extent possible.