04 Mar Legislative summary of the current status of SB 186
Legislative summary of the current status of SB 186, also known as
the “Children’s Equal Access Act”
I would like to extend a special thanks to the individuals that traveled to the statehouse in Montgomery on March 1, 2017. The select individuals testified before the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee, regarding Senate Bill 186 (SB186).
- SB186, incorporates peer-reviewed scientific data (40 studies and consensus of over 100 social scientists [3-minute expert testimony]) on the subject of child custody. SB186 also comes as a result of surveying and consulting other learned and experienced attorneys (Burdick Law Firm and Isaak Law Firm) and judges in this field of practice; members of the Alabama Law Institute Family Law Standing Committee, Alabama Family Rights Association Advisory Committee, and feedback via state executive and local branches of government proclamations calling on community and state leaders to support shared parenting because of its benefits for children.
- Here’s a quote from the 2016 judges’ survey conducted by the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts:
- “I have never in ten years awarded ‘true custody’ or ‘50/50 custody’ in a case.” “I do not believe that such instability is ever in any child’s best interest. Therefore, I do not do it of my own accord.”
- SB186 creates an equal starting point in all child custody cases for children and their parents. Thus, equally protecting a child’s relationship with both [fit] parents and reduces placing our children at risk for suicide, juvenile incarceration, drug use, sex trafficking and teen pregnancy.
- SB186 will improve the ability for parents, courts, parenting coordinators and mediators to implement parenting plans, insure the best interests of all children in Alabama and give due deference to the rights and privileges of all children and parents in Alabama.
- Senator Larry Stutts, Sponsor of SB186
- Kenneth Paschal, the Alabama Family Rights Association (ALFRA) State President and U.S. Army First Sergeant, Retired
- Tamar Watts, 17 year old student at Helena High School, child of divorce – living in an equal shared parenting time arrangement with her parents since the age of 4 years old.
- You can click here to hear Ms. Watts POWERFUL testimony. She delivered an exceptional testimony before the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee.
- Austin Burdick, Constitutional Law and Alabama Family Law Attorney, a member of the Alabama Law Institute Standing Committee on Family Law
- Julie A. Palmer, previously elected Place 20 Judge for Circuit 10, in Jefferson County Alabama. She was initially elected to the court in 2010. Palmer ran for election to a full term but lost in the general election on November 8, 2016.
- Although Ms. Palmer signed up to testify as an opponent, her testimony included strong support for SB186 which includes the following:
- Create a rebuttable presumption that both parents are fit to make parenting decisions (Page 5, Line 24)
- Require courts to enforce all parenting time, visitation, custody, and child support orders in the same manner. (Page 11, Line 20)
- The court shall in every case presume joint custody [equal or approximately equal parenting time] to be in the best interest of the child as the starting point. (Page 5, Line 18)
- Provides statutory definition of frequent and continuing (substantial) contact (Page 4, Line 16)
- Reordered the 18 factors for the Courts to consider; provides guidelines for judges so that children and parents across the State are treated the same. (Page 7, Line 3)
- Require the parties to submit a parenting plan in all cases (Page 8, Line 13)
The Senate Judiciary Committee did not vote on SB186 March 1, 2017 but a vote is expected next week and could occur as early as Tuesday, March 7th. Please contact the Senate Judiciary Committee members, and ask them to vote “YES” on SB 186.
By: Kenneth Paschal, Pelham – Alabama, Alabama Family Rights Association State President, a child activist, a fit parent, an advocate for protecting parents’ fundamental rights, and U.S. Army Retired First Sergeant.