House kills bill to give guaranteed parental time for divorced parents

  • The House convenes at the State House in Concord on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Thursday, January 04, 2018

A bill that would give divorced parents a guaranteed proportion of time with their children was tabled by the House on Wednesday, following objections from critics who say it could hamper the interests of children.

House Bill 236 would have created a new definition for “shared parenting,” adding a standard that would ensure a child spends at least 35 percent of available time with each parent. The provision would take place in the absence of an agreement between the parties.

The bill would carve out exceptions in cases where a court finds evidence that one of the parents had committed abuse or neglect, or had been incarcerated.

Supporters had said that the bill would eliminate disproportionate parental time with children. Many argued the time is weaponized by divorcees to the detriment of their kids.

“I want you to change your paradigm of thought,” said Rep. Dan Itse, R-Fremont. “This is not about parents’ rights. This is about children’s rights.”

But critics said it would impose an arbitrary time requirement and that the final bill had been rushed without adequate consideration of what might be best for the child.

Rep. Lucy Weber, D-Walpole, argued that the bill was not adequately developed and could force children to spend time with parents who are not suitable.

“This bill looks at the rights of the parents, and I think that’s the wrong way to go about it,” she said, adding, “What the bill will do is change a situation that is now merely difficult into a complete disaster.”