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Fathers Rally for Equal Parenting Rights

By: Zac Schultz
By: Zac Schultz

Madison: David Lewis enjoys every minute he gets to spend with his 3 year old daughter Juliana. Of course, he doesn't get all that many minutes each week.

He went to court after he was originally awarded only 7 hours of visitation each week. "The court ended up giving me 34 hours a week to see my daughter. But yet I'm a licensed foster father and I can care for other people's children, 2–4 year old girls on a full time basis."

David is eminently qualified to care for his daughter, and yet he can't even get equal custody. That seeming inequality is why the Wisconsin Fathers for Children and Families rallied at the Capitol.

"If we're going to expect fathers to be good role models and to be a positive influence on their children they have to have access to their children. To be there every other weekend just isn't sufficient," says WFCF Chair Brian King.

"All we're asking for is equal time with our kids," agrees David.

While changing the court's age old view of women as better parents may take time, some changes are moving faster.

Juliana's mom used to live 10 miles away from David. "Then she moved with her boyfriend approximately 80 miles so now I drive about 300 miles a week on average to see my daughter."

State law allows a parent with primary custody to move up to 150 miles away without even informing the other parent.

Assembly bill 400 would change that. "The assumption has been made that whatever's good for the primary parent is good for the child. What we're with this bill is questioning that," says bill auther Rep. Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake).

Representative Kestell's bill would change the boundary limit to just 20 miles or inside a school district. If a parent wants to move farther, they either need the permission of the other parent, or the approval of a judge.

"In every case we're still going to go back to what's in the best interest of the child," says Rep. Kestell.

AB 400 has been passed out of committee and is being scheduled for a vote in the assembly.


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