North Dakota Child Custody and Support, Statutory Measure 3 (2006)

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The North Dakota Child Support and Custody Initiative, also known as Initiated Statutory Measure 3, was on the November 7, 2006 ballot in North Dakota as an initiated state statute, where it was defeated.[1] The measure would have provided that, for child custody and support in the event of a divorce, separation or custody proceeding, each parent would be entitled to joint legal and physical custody unless first declared unfit based on clear and convincing evidence. It also would have provided that parents must develop a joint parenting plan, with a court becoming involved only if parents do not agree on a plan and that child support payments be based on the parenting plan and could not be greater than the actual cost of providing for the basic needs of each child.[2]

Election results

North Dakota Initiated Statutory Measure 3 (2006)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No118,04856.41%
Yes 91,225 43.59%

Election results via: North Dakota Secretary of State, Official Vote of General Election, 2006

Text of measure

Ballot title

The language appeared on the ballot as:[3]

Initiated Statutory Measure No. 3

This initiated statutory measure would add a new section to chapter 14-09 of the North Dakota Century Code.

This measure would provide that, for child custody and support in the event of a divorce, separation, or custody proceeding, each parent would be entitled to joint legal and physical custody unless first declared unfit based on clear and convincing evidence; that parents must develop a joint parenting plan, with a court becoming involved only if parents do not agree on a plan; that child support payments be based on the parenting plan and could not be greater than the actual cost of providing for the basic needs of each child.

YES – This means you approve the measure as summarized above.

NO – This means you reject the measure as summarized above. [4]

Statutory changes

The measure would have created Section 14-09-06.7 of the North Dakota Century Code to read as follows:[5]

14-09-06.7. Shared Parenting - equal access to children.

Not withstanding any other state statute or common law, the following fundamental rights are hereby recognized for all adults and children of North Dakota, and this section shall be self activating upon voter approval.

1. Parents have a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody and control of their children. Acknowledging the long established legal tenet that fit parents act in the best interest of their children, no parent shall be denied custody of a child without first having been declared unfit, utilizing the clear and convincing evidentiary standard. Absent a finding of parental unfitness parents retain joint legal and joint physical custody of their children. Joint physical custody of the children is defined as a rebuttable presumption of equal time sharing by the parents. In the event of a finding of unfitness of one parent, the best interests and welfare of the child is determined at the court's discretion utilizing current best interest standards as defined in existing state code.

2. Parents shall develop a joint parenting plan, or if they can not agree to such a plan, the court shall facilitate production of a parenting plan with them. These plans must take into account the fundamental liberty interest of the parents, encouraging parents to craft a plan based on their unique family circumstances. Parents may modify the parenting plan anytime without restriction by mutual agreement. Parenting plan changes as a result of court petition require the petitioner to demonstrate how the modification serves the child's best interest. Parents who have not previously had a fitness hearing my petition the court for a fitness hearing at any time. All decisions or actions under state law shall be gender and race neutral. Gender cannot be a determining factor in parenting plan formulation or modification decisions.

Support

A full list of the members of the sponsoring committee can be read here.

Mitchell Sanderson, of Grand Forks, a sponsor of the child custody measure, said the initiative was hurt by "fear-mongering from attorneys who were protecting their Lexus payment and lake home payment." He said he would attempt to work with the Legislature on a new bill. "If that doesn't work, I will come back with another initiative that is plain and clear: joint physical custody unless you're found unfit," he said.[6]

The North Dakota Shared Parenting Initiative raised $18,932 supporting Measure 3.[7]

Opposition

Carrie McKay, 35, of Bismarck, said she voted against it because it "doesn't seem right" for children.[6]

Concerned Citizens for Children's Rights raised $30,804 opposing Measure 3.[7]

Path to the ballot

Initiated Statutory Measure 2 was placed on the ballot by petitions circulated by a sponsoring committee. The petition language was submitted to the North Dakota Secretary of State for review and approval for circulation on February 17, 2006. The Secretary of State supplied the Sponsoring Committee with the ballot title for petition along with a list of corrections for the petition's format on March 1, 2006. The Sponsoring Committee returned proof of petition to the Secretary of State for review on March 1, 2006, and the Secretary of State approved the petition for circulation on the same day. The measure needed at least 12,844 signatures to be placed on the ballot.[8]

Similar measures

See also

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