Equal Parenting Time Bill Unlikely To Pass
By Caroline Cordell
History repeats itself once again with proposed legislation in Nebraska to create the presumption of equal parenting time unlikely to pass in the Nebraska State Senate.
Last month, MensRights.com published an article chronicling the exciting and promising custody reform in Nebraska, in particular the LB 1000 bill. The situation seemed encouraging, with the Nebraska Administrative Office of the Courts releasing a report supporting the core tenets of the proposed legislation: divorced fathers have limited visitation with their children.
Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly to those familiar with the family law courts, fathers are at an inherent disadvantage in Nebraska courts.
These were the results from a ten-year period:
- 72 percent of the time mothers were awarded sole or primary custody
- 13.8 percent of the time fathers were awarded sole or primary custody
- 12.3 percent of the time equal parenting time was awarded
- 72 percent of child custody cases result in dads only seeing their children 5.5 days a month.
Despite the clear, hard-hitting reality of these numbers, State Sen. Russ Karpisek told the members of the Judiciary Committee that he had failed to hash out the details of his proposed legislation, meaning that the current form of the bill would not advance to debate in the legislature.
The problems he encountered? Apparently, the main issue with the bill was figuring out how to separate visitation time from child support. Currently in Nebraska, dictating there be equal parenting time would equate to the parents sharing all expenses.
It seems encouraging joint custody, or shared parenting, in family law courts is an insurmountable task. The situation in Nebraska seemed promising. However, the inertia of the opposition coupled with complicated divorce laws makes the situation disconcerting.
Even if there was agreement that both parents need equal parenting time (which there isn’t), the proponents face other hurdles before divorced parents can have truly equal parenting time.
Besides mandating the presumption of shared parenting, there must be changes to child support laws. Politicians must decide whether they want to maintain current child support regulations (where the father pays the majority of child expenses), or move in the direction of equal payments.
What this bill has shown proponents of fair child custody laws is that the situation is very complicated. More must be done than merely mandating equal parenting time. And we must be ready for the fight.