This summer was a busy one for Beth Hedger, founder of Idaho Fathers’ Rights Movement. After traveling to several counties spreading awareness of problems in Idaho family courts this summer, Hedger says there’s still work to be done for dads in the state. The group is pushing for courts to grant shared parenting time to mom and dad by default.
With folks looking to make default custody laws more equitable in over half of U.S. states now, the group is hitting the pavement at the right time. Meeting together at courthouses across Idaho, members came prepared with signs and information. Most people don’t realize how backward the court system in the state is when it comes to family issues.
For instance, Idaho was ranked among the lowest states when considering parenting time granted to divorced fathers. The problem is compounded by the state’s unusually high divorce rate.
While the law directs family court to make custody decisions based on the best interests of the child, most dads see their kids one night a week and every other weekend. Hedger hopes the new group will help change that — and they’re making progress. Members have been working with legislators to draft a shared custody bill, and hope to have it ready to introduce by next session.
How You Can Support a Shared Custody Bill in Idaho
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The Idaho Fathers’ Rights Movement worked with Jeff Thompson on drafting a bill last year, but as Thompson failed to win re-election, the process is back to square one. Leaders say they hope to have a draft introduced in January. There’s plenty of time to prep your representatives to ensure they support the legislation.
For instance, you can go to the “Who is My Legislator?” page at the Idaho State website and get the name and contact information for your state senators and representatives. Call, email or write, and let them know you support shared custody laws.
People involved in drafting the bill have in-depth knowledge of relevant laws and case studies, so you might want to hold off on making specific requests to your representatives.
Once introduced, legislation in Idaho goes through a lengthy process, where bills are read publicly, placed in committee where changes are discussed before sending it to the floor to be discussed and voted on. The House and the Senate pass the bill before it’s sent to the Governor, who can sign it, veto it or let it become a bill by simply refusing to act on it.
With so many possibilities for things to go sideways, it’s important for supporters to act en masse. If interested, get in touch with the Idaho Fathers’ Rights Movement for more information, at https://www.facebook.com/TFRMID/.