11 Apr FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Pro Family Legislation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Bipartisan Legislation Creates a Uniform Starting Point for All Child Custody Cases
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Senator Larry Stutts (R-Tuscumbia) has introduced the Children’s Equal Access Act (SB 266) in the Alabama Legislature to clarify child custody laws and create a fair, uniform starting point for all child custody cases that focus on children first.
In step with “Rebuild Alabama,” the Children’s Equal Access Act’s objective is to fix Alabama’s broken and archaic child custody laws. Laws that were last modified 22 years ago and that have had no significant change in the application of law since 1852.
Existing Alabama child custody law is ambiguous in spots and it creates an unfair and unpredictable process for parents. For example, Alabama law states that separated or divorced parents should have frequent and continuing contact with their children, but “frequent and continuing contact” is not defined. As a result, child custody determinations are predicated more on which judge hears a case rather than the actual circumstances of the dispute.
The 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, more than 40 studies show and 112 experts agree that “…shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages.”
“Parental equality should be the starting point for every child custody case,” Stutts remarked. “Ultimately, it’s about the child having a right to equal time with both his or her mother, father, and extended family, provided that both parents are responsible adults.”
In addition to the uniform guidelines mentioned above, the act provides that there should be a rebuttable presumption that both parents are fit to make parenting decisions and have maximum parenting time with their children. In some cases, it gives the Court discretion to deviate from the presumption but requires the Court to indicate why joint custody is not in the best interest of the child.
One key element is that it will require a parenting plan be submitted in all cases – not just those requesting joint custody, and will give authority for the Court to establish one when the parties are unable to agree. The parenting plan aims to maximize a child’s time with both fit parents during divorce or separation, which gives the child’s extended family the opportunity to have a relationship with the child, provided that parents are responsible adults.
Contact: Debbie Zeiger, State VP
Phone: (205) 626-9458
Common Myths & Misconceptions About —The Children’s Equal Access Act Here.