Status Of Men’s Rights Bills
The last couple months have featured a variety of states proposing, adopting or rejecting numerous men’s rights bills that primarily addressed outdated alimony and child custody laws.
Some states are clearly moving in the right direction toward promoting father’s rights (Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee) while others have stalled (Alabama).
Thanks to our partners at CordellCordell.com, here is a snapshot of the status of some of the more important bills from around the country.
If you know of new legislation that is not mentioned, please let us know by leaving a comment at the end of the article. (You can also read our summaries about the status of shared parenting bills.)
A bill that would have helped fathers win more child custody rights was shelved until the next legislative session. The Alabama Children’s Family Act would have required judges to order equal, joint custody of children in all divorce settlements that parents cannot work out themselves.
A bill designed to reduce the amount of alimony paid has been making its way through the legislature over the past few months
When determining alimony, the bill would require courts to consider “the extent to which income for support was already capitalized and paid to the other spouse in the division of community property, in order to avoid double counting the income when the result would be inequitable.”
MensRights.com has covered Massachusetts’ alimony reform attempts before. Lawmakers in the state have proposed the Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act of 2011, which would allow judges to base alimony awards on the recipient’s actual financial need for spousal support and end payments for long-term marriages at retirement age.
The bill would significantly alter how alimony payments are determined in the state and place caps on payment duration.
In June, Ohio joined more than 30 other states in passing laws that secure child custody rights for military members. The state’s child custody bill ensures parents who are active in the U.S. military will not have their existing custody order altered solely due to their military service.
Most recently, Oklahoma passed similar legislation in early June.
Tennessee has been the most active state recently in tackling issues that directly affects men’s rights and father’s rights.
First, a “common sense” bill was signed into law that requires judges to consider how to maximize both parents involvement in their child’s life when making custody decisions.
Hopefully this law will lead some judges to increase visitation time and designate equal 50-50 parenting time more often.
The Tennessee Supreme Court has also agreed to hear two cases involving family law – a paternity fraud case and an alimony case.
The court could decide if a man has legal grounds to sue for being tricked into supporting a child that is not biologically his. It appears this may be the first time a state Supreme Court tackles the issue of whether paternity fraud is grounds for a lawsuit.
In another case, the court could determine the future of how alimony is awarded. This case involves a woman who claims she deserves $15,000 a year in alimony despite the fact she earns $72,000 a year. Her initial request for alimony was denied because of her income and earning potential, but upon appeal, a Court of Appeals found that the mother did deserve that much money from her ex-husband.
The ex-husband appealed that decision and now the case is now before the Tennessee Supreme Court.
In West Virginia, lawmakers are advocating a bill that would not require an individual to pay alimony if their partner had an affair during their marriage.
If you find yourself in the midst of a fathers rights battle, contact the divorce attorneys for men at the Cordell & Cordell Law Firm or read the divorce resources available at DadsDivorce.com.