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Ballot question concerns shared parenting

The Sun (Holyoke), Oct. 28-Nov. 3, 2004

In Holyoke and some wards in Chicopee (Westfield and the "hill" towns too), voters will decide on a non-binding ballot question Nov. 2.  The wards are represented by unopposed incumbent (Senator) Michael R. Knapik (R-Westfield).

The non-binding question reads:  "Shall the senator from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation requiring that in all separation and divorce proceedings involving minor children, the court shall uphold all the fundamental rights of both parents to shared physical and legal custody of their children and the children's right to maximize their time with each parent, so far as is practical, unless one parent is found unfit or the parents agree otherwise, subject to the requirements of existing child support and abuse prevention laws?"

Knapik said the ballot question will serve as an advisory for him and could lead to more review by the state.  He sponsored a shared parenting bill with state Senator Brian Lees (R-East Longmeadow) two years ago that dealt with a similar question. 

"We sponsored the bill on behalf of concerned fathers who felt the court was somewhat bias.  The goal is to have the premise that both parents are on equal footing," said Knapik.

On the current ballot question, Knapik said, "there are certainly issues worth exploring, but it's still in the very early stages of the legislative process."