Rough night..

“I’m going to bed,” the Cowboy says after a story airs tonight that we were hoping might help get the word out about Thursdays hearing at the state capitol on shared parenting legislation.

He’s pretty upset.  (I’m hoping me write about it doesn’t make him more-so)

“I should never have done this.  It was a bad idea,” he says very sadly.

One of the Sioux Falls TV stations did a report with the Cowboy tonight .. after we reached out to them and some others, on the issue of Senate Bill 60 and House Bill 1055 going before the Senate Judiciary this Thursday.

(A quick synopsis of the legislation:)

The issue is joint physical custody and placement of children in a divorce.  Current state law in South Dakota works under the very outdated premise, that kids suffer when given equal time with two loving parents.  It states they should live primarily with one.  (One argument is because it’s just too tough for them to go between homes, even if parents live within close proximity.  Recent studies show that is not at all, the case.)

Both bills, one more-so than the other, would offer the non-custodial parent a better chance to fight for equal placement.

One very stingy Senator/Family Law Atty among others, we understand would love nothing more than this issue to go away.  Again.  The Cowboy feels that is unacceptable.

So, with a suggestions from me, he offered to share his story if it would help.

NOW…

I’m not sure if I wish I were there in South Dakota at the moment, because I could have potentially better ensured all facts were relayed to the reporter who came out to do the story.. because I think like a reporter, because that is also what I do for my day job.

Or if I could just be there to console the Cowboy.

I say that because there were a few factual errors in the story.  (that have since mostly been corrected after a call into the newsroom)  He still now feels like he looks worse to a whole lot more people than he ever could have to begin with.

For what it’s worth, I’m thinking,.. people really don’t watch the news all that closely and will probably have forgotten most of the details anyway.  They won’t remember what he’s stressing about.. I’m sure his -ex might.  If she knows about the story at all.  Which I’m fairly certain by now she’s heard.  But most people will not have any idea.  And those who might judge him based on the incorrect statements made, well, they can go play by themselves in the sandbox quite honestly.

The Cowboy is one of the most kind hearted, loving, good, God fearing, humble and giving souls you will ever meet.  And that’s to a stranger.  To the kiddos, he’s all that and more.

(For the record, the Cowboy has joint custody.  Which most couples do.  But the children’s mother has primary placement.  These were among the incorrect statements made in the story.  Regardless, not having primary placement means the Cowboy, in South Dakota is lucky to get 4 days/month with his kids and a couple hours one night ea. week.  Amazingly, he feels fortunate because that’s more than many in his shoes get.

But not fortunate enough to let a ridiculous situation slide…)

The most recent studies will tell you, both parents typically, if possible, want an equal role.  And the kids want the same.  They want to feel free to love both parents and spend time with them equally.  It is what is best for them.  All around.  (Almost always but not always)

Unfortunately, kids are often told until they’re 12, their opinion doesn’t count.  Don’t even get me started on that.

The fact of the matter is, important points were made in the story that aired, which people WILL remember.

Such as:  there is an incredible imbalance in South Dakota parental placement in the event of a divorce and something needs to change.

Such as:  oh my .. there’s actually a bill our legislators are going to debate on this issue?  I know so-and-so is going through a divorce and I wonder if they know.. (you know, word of mouth to do something good, even when its slightly incorrect, can be helpful)

Such as:  a reminder we all have a voice.  And our elected officials are there to represent us.  Does your Representative or Senator have a fair and accurate idea of where you stand on Senate Bill 60?

http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2012/Bills/SB60P.pdf

Or, House Bill 1055?  Do you even know who your legislators are?  Look them up.  And raise your voice.  These bills, these proposed changes are nothing to be feared. They will instead, be celebrated in many homes, should one actually pass this year into law.

Perhaps in tonights story some of the facts were a bit distorted.  Or just wrong.  Most have been corrected.  Too late for the Cowboy to have gone off to bed feeling ok about the whole deal.  But we live and we learn and hopefully if there ever is a next time, he knows better what to say to be correctly represented.

I hope he wakes in the morning feeling better about the whole deal.  But then again, it may depend on how a state newspaper tells its story.  That.. I believe, is set to hit newsstands come the break of day ..

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“I’d love to argue with you later”.. she says, laughing.

The Cowboy and I are still chuckling a bit over my last conversation of the day yesterday at the South Dakota statehouse.. with the likes of Ms. Joni Cutler http://tiny.cc/l2x37.

Now, I don’t want to do anything to ruffle anyone’s feathers.  We are all entitled to our own opinions.  And if I am ever looking for work in South Dakota, I need to watch inserting my opinions anywhere.

However..

What is fair to share with you, is the exchange.

Ms. Cutler was one of the last to come out of the Senate Chambers yesterday afternoon ..  Fortunately, we were still there, waiting on the House to dismiss.

Far from the ranch

We were scheduled to talk with one of Senate Bill 60’s strongest supporters, Representative Melissa Magstadt.

The Cowboy was off talking with Rep. Mitch Fargen.

Others, who had been making sure we talked with everyone possible where it might make a difference .. knew I wanted to speak with Cutler despite the fact she is adamantly opposed to any update/advance in shared parenting legislation.

They said, there she is.  And then they bolted.

I watched as she leisurely stopped and talked with various colleagues on her way out the door .. often stopping, turning back around, joking with a few folks, and taking a few steps back toward the door.

Finally she walked out.

I said, “Ms. Cutler, my name is ….  I am here with a gentleman by the name of .. (the Cowboy) today.”  She smiled and said, “Nice to meet you.”  She seemed quite relaxed and in no hurry.

“We’re here today to talk about Senate Bill 60 and the need for improved shared parenting legislation,” I said.

She cut me off, saying “I’m not interested.”

“I understand that,” I explained.  I made sure to be looking her in the eye when I said, “I’m just curious if you can explain to me why.”

She stopped, searching, I believe for the right words.  Any words actually.  And then she replied, “We feel judges should have all of the information and room possible to make the best decision and not mandate them to have to give couples in a divorce equal custody.”

“Why wouldn’t SB60 allow them that same room for judgement?” I asked.

“If it would, why wouldn’t it already be in place?” she replied loudly.  “Ask yourself that..”

“I have,” I said.  “And that is why we are here today to talk with you and some others.”

I probably said it with a smirk, I have to admit, but that’s what I said, very calmly.  Because at this point, she had gathered herself up and was walking away.  Which is what I had expected.

As she rounded the corner and was about out of sight.. she threw in, laughing, “I’d love to argue with you later, but I have to go.”

I replied “I’m not sure we need to argue, but I was hoping we might discuss.”

Arguing is currently, I hate to say it, what the current law fosters.  And there is nothing more detrimental to a family, children especially of parents who can’t get along, than arguing and being at each others throats through the lengthy, very sad process that is often divorce.

But it is a process currently, that any family law attorney such as Ms. Cutler and the State Bar … now I’m only guessing here … would stand to benefit from, as parents who argue over anything through a divorce and custody battle, typically argue through an attorney.  Sorry, just thinking out loud as to why Ms. Cutler might support the status quo in this situation.

Senate Bill 60, we believe, will bring families back to a middle ground where everyone is encouraged to get along for the sake of the children.  And when there is conflict, an unobjective third party is brought in to help with resolution.  Can someone please explain to me why this is a bad idea?  That is all I was hoping Cutler might help explain to me.  Why she feels this is such a bad idea.

For those of you wanting more on SB60 and why the Cowboy and I were there yesterday,  if you can glance at yesterday’s post, it’ll give you an idea.

For those of you who just want to be lazy and not look (which I get) .. Here’s a link to the bill.  😉  http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2012/Bills/SB60P.pdf

We’re not sure why there are still people out there who need to be convinced it is a child’s best interest, in most circumstances, to have both parents equally in their lives after a divorce, or for both parents to be treated and viewed equally through a divorce assuming both adults are loving, caring parents.  It seems a bit silly.  But, apparently there is a need to try and get the word out.  And having talked with countless other parents, mostly dads in South Dakota, who after years of hoping someone will listen to them and gave up, we felt it was our turn to pick up the fight.

Time with the kids - precious.

The Cowboy has been on the phone since leaving Pierre yesterday talking with family, friends and people he hasn’t heard from in ages.  Old friends who have their own story to share and who say they’ll do whatever it takes to support him.  And the bill.  And that is exactly what is needed.

http://legis.state.sd.us/who/index.aspx

This bill needs attention now.  If support isn’t strong before an upcoming hearing and testimony during the hearing, chances are it won’t even get out of committee.  It was scheduled to start this time around, in the most likely place it would get killed.  Because everyone we spoke with who’d like to see this pass is tired of working hard to see it fail, again.

One of the Cowboy’s good friends, who could lose her job for supporting this bill, is taking a stand and plans to testify.  She this morning, posted this on her fb page:

If you believe parents should have joint custody of their children, please contact your Senators and Represenative in Pierre and urge them to support Senate Bill 60. This bill will be voted on Thursday, February 9th at 7:45 a.m. during Judiciary Committee at the State Capital in Pierre… This bill is SO IMPORTANT!!! 

Even if you are not from South Dakota … (we’ve gotten emails today from folks in other state) but support moms and dads anywhere being encouraged to be good co-parents, to come to the table with equal parenting rights and responsibilities and allowing both parents to help raise their child .. especially if you are a judge, or an attorney and have seen 50/50 work.. Magstadt asked me just this morning to have you ..

Please contact either Senator Tim Begalka http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2012/MemberDetail.aspx?Member=151

Or, Representative Melissa Magstadt.  http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2012/MemberDetail.aspx?Member=159 

The Cowboy .. says thank you.  Because he doesn’t plan to walk away .. from the discussion.  Especially if it means, he might somehow get the opportunity to be more of the dad he wants to be.