A northeastern North Dakota group has filed a proposed initiated measure to
allow equal child custody for divorced parents.
Jill Bjerke of Park River is chairwoman of that group. Bjerke says it's
proven through social science research the very best thing for the well-being of
children in a divorce is to have the influence of both parents in their lives.
Bjerke says she understands common sense must be considered. It's
the closest to equal custody as possible. It'll require mutual compromise for the
best interests of a child in a divorce in North Dakota. Bjerke says what's going
on now "is not working for our children." She says they're being raised in single-parent
homes. She says statistics show high school drop-outs, more teen pregnancies,
more drug abuse. Bjerke says research shows both parents' influence is more
Bjerke is a divorced parent. She says she now has equal custody of
her son with his father and the child is doing very well socially and in school.
The petition proposes adding a section to North Dakota law to establish
equal parenting time, responsibility, and decision-making. Only a court can
declare a parent or parents unfit.
A similar measure was defeated in two-thousand-six.
Once she gets approval of the petition and the affidavits of the 25
sponsoring committee, members, Bjerke will start circulating the petitions.
She wants the question on the November, 2014 North Dakota ballot.