Status of Shared Parenting Bills
Across the nation, pivotal family law reform bills are currently before state legislatures. Most bills deal with equally shared parenting, along with a few addressing visitation interference and temporary custody orders.
Many interested parties, including the mens divorce attorneys at Cordell & Cordell, are paying attention to these bills in anticipation of much needed change.
The American Coalition for Fathers and Children distributes an e-newsletter to keep its membership aware of its efforts to support family law improvement and pass shared parenting bills nationwide.
Here is an update on where important family law bills stand in various states, as reported by ACFC.
Sen. Paul Bussman has introduced an equally shared parenting bill called the Alabama Children’s Family Act that has its usual share of supporters and detractors.
The Steve Watkins Bill deals with visitation interference and applies many of the sanctions available in non-payment of child support cases to those of visitation and access interference.
MensRights.com talked with several father’s rights advocates (including Robert Franklin and Lary Holland) about the fact that many courts do not have the explicit expressed authority to enforce visitation orders. The courts do have that power in child support cases, though. The penalties for being in contempt of court for missing child support payments run from fines all the way up to imprisonment.
“We all know when child support is not paid the law is swift and severe,” Franklin said. “But it’s not so with visitation matters.”
This bill gives judges the authority to levy fines, suspend driver’s and professional licenses, require surety bonds, and incarcerate parents who continually interfere with visitation. The Illinois House passed the bill so now it goes to the Senate for consideration.
According to ACFC, “There is an increasing level of opposition to this bill led by a consortium of groups. The Family Law Section of the Illinois Bar Association is joining with the Illinois Coalition of Domestic Violence to oppose the bill. The Secretary of State’s office is concerned about an increase in paperwork when the bill passes.”
Illinois Fathers, a group that represents the interest of parents experiencing access interference, also continues to be fully engaged in efforts to bring about shared parenting for the state’s residents.
Learn more about the Steve Watkins bill by reading the divorce article on DadsDivorce.com.
A shared parenting bill, HF345, has successfully passed the Iowa House and is now in the Senate, but it appears opposition is increasing. If you have friends or family in Iowa who are interested in these issues connect them with Iowa Fathers, an ACFC affiliate.
The Maryland Senate held a hearing on SB909, Maryland’s equally shared parenting bill that is the Senate version of HB1132. The bills will come for a vote soon.
Molly Olson, founder of the Center for Parental Responsibility, is still working to move a joint physical custody bill, HF322. Olson recently talked with MensRights.com about the chances of the bill being passed into law.
Hearings have begun on HB3064, a measure that deals with joint custody and parenting time at the temporary custody order stage. ACFC points out the old legal adage that “there’s nothing more permanent than a temporary order” absolutely applies to family court.
South Dakota’s shared parenting bill, HB1255, fell several votes short in the Senate and was just one step from the Governor’s desk for signature.
“The sponsors and supporters of the bill are going to run it again next session and feel confident they can pick up enough votes to get it passed,” according to ACFC.
Another shared parenting bill has been introduced, though “the emphasis in Texas right now seems to lie much more in how to separate parents from their money rather than keeping child/parent relationships intact,” ACFC said. “It’s time kids in Texas have a full relationship with both parents.”
A shared parenting bill, AB-54, is also being debated in Wisconsin.
The American Coalition for Fathers and Children is an organization dedicated to creating a family law system and public awareness that promotes equal rights for all partied affected by divorce. Its mission is shared parenting.