08 Dec It’s time for a makeover – Family Law article
The Alabama Family Rights Association is featured in this week’s (Dec. 5, 2018) The Trussville Tribune paper.
- Read the article here – (bottom of Page 3) “It’s time for a makeover – Family Law”
Families are the cornerstone of an orderly, prosperous, and free society. Children living without one of their parents, specifically their biological father, are placed at higher risk for a broad range of social pathologies, including academic difficulties, conduct issues, and involvement with the criminal justice system.
While some parents abandon their parental responsibilities, surprisingly, the number one reason of one-parent involvement for children is court ordered. Each year, approximately 40,000 of Alabama’s children are separated from one of their parents by domestic court orders, reducing the child’s time with one parent (the non-custodial parent) to as little as one to six days per month. Although referred to as the “best interest of the child” standard, current social science data shows just the opposite.
In fact, the state is currently ranked fourth in the country regarding number of divorces, and 42nd regarding overall child well-being, which is based on four categories: health, education, economic well-being, and family and community.
These stunning statistics are what prompted to the formation of the Alabama Family Rights Association (ALFRA). ALFRA is a not-for-profit, all volunteer organization.
ALFRA is not a fathers’ rights or even mothers’ right group. Why? Because it’s about the child having a right to be associated with both mom and dad and their extended family.
Unless there’s harm to a child such as drugs, abuse or neglect, children whose parents divorce or are separated should be afforded the same equal opportunity to love and spend time with both of their parents as children whose parents are not divorced or separated. These rights are independent of a child’s parents marital status and protected by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Equal Protection Clause.
Years of complaints from both parents, children of divorce, and results of the 2015 and 2016 surveys administered by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) indicate that a biased and unbalanced practice still exists throughout the State of Alabama, even though, over 40 studies show and 112 experts agree that “…shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of ALL ages.”
In Alabama, primary custody is typically awarded to one parent with standard visitation given to the other parent. Right now, we have a judicial system where the outcome is solely based on which county you live in or which judge hears your case.
There are more than 40 scientific studies that indicates when both parents are involved in a child’s life, the outcome is measurably improved. We cannot, knowingly, hurt our children by upholding policies that continue to harm generation after generation of innocent children.
This will require a change of thinking and a shift in mindset and roles.
We have been working extremely hard for almost a decade to bring awareness and education to our legislators, as well as the general public about this systemic problem.
In 2011, we started the conversation and legislative process to update the outdated child custody laws. During the 2018 legislative session, a child custody bill was introduced and called the “Children’s Equal Access Act”. The Children’s Equal Access Act aimed to maximize a child’s time with both parents. It made it to the senate floor for a favorable vote but was stalled in the House Judiciary Committee prior to the end of the legislative session.
The key components of the Children’s Equal Access Act incorporates:
- scientific data for best outcomes for children;
- creates a rebuttable presumption that joint custody (meaning that the child has equal or as approximately equal as possible time with both parents) is in the best interest of the child, as the starting point;
- give the court discretion to deviate from the presumption and require the court to indicate why joint custody is not in the best interest of the child;
- require the parties to submit a parenting plan in all cases, so the courts have a written idea of the parents desires;
The primary goal of the Alabama Family Rights Association is to educate the public and government officials concerning the importance of equal involvement of both fit parents in a child’s life. As the nation seeks answers on how best to make schools and communities safer, and how to combat increased violent crimes; ALFRA believes the long-term solution to prevent such actions must include protecting a child’s right to love both parents.
Action steps for citizens to take today.
- Visit alfra.org to learn more about our efforts to preserve, promote, and protect family relationships.
- Like the Alabama Family Rights Association Facebook page,
- Donate to ALFRA by visiting ALFRA.ORG
It’s imperative that concerned citizens take concentrated steps to update the child custody laws by the passage of the “Children’s Equal Access Act” during the 2019 legislative session.
Our children are depending on us!!!
By: Kenneth Paschal, Pelham – Alabama, Alabama Family Rights Association State President, a child activist, and U.S. Army First Sergeant Retired.