06 May FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – SB266 moves to the House
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Child custody bill on path to become law could help Rebuild Alabama.
The Children’s Equal Access Act (SB266) aimed to maximize a child’s time with both parents passes the Senate (25 – 4) on May 2nd and moves to the House Children and Senior Advocacy Committee.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – In step with “Rebuild Alabama,” the Children’s Equal Access Act’s objective is to fix Alabama’s broken and archaic child custody laws that were last modified 22 years ago and that have had not significantly changed in the application since 1852.
Senator Larry Stutts (R- Tuscumbia) is the sponsor of the Senate Bill 266, a bipartisan, pro child-parent relationship legislation known as the “Children’s Equal Access Act.” The bill will clarify Alabama law and focus on children first. The bill creates an equitable starting point for courts and allows judges the discretion to consider the facts of each individual case, to then make a determination that is in the best interests of the child, while preserving the child’s right to have a healthy relationship with both parents. In the last decade, 80 executive leaders across Alabama have passed proclamations calling on state leaders to support shared parenting.
“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 of his or her mother, father, and extended family, provided that both parents are responsible adults.”
The Children’s Equal Access Act incorporates research-based recommendations from the Family Law section of the Alabama State Bar in 2014, Alabama Law Institute’s Family Law Standing Committee, two judges’ surveys conducted by the Administrative Office of Courts (AOC), constituents’ testimonies, research-based conclusions from more than 40 studies, the consensus of over 100 social scientists regarding child custody, and a friendly amendment by the Alabama Department of Human Resources.
– Results of surveys administered by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) indicate that a biased and unbalanced practice still exists throughout the State of Alabama. See the State of Children in Alabama. Approximately 40,000 Alabama children a year experience court ordered visitation with one parent for only two to six days a month. Statistical results confirmed by Alabama DHR reveal that children lacking meaningful contact with one of their parents are more likely to be burdened by increased youth crime, school dropout rates, drug and alcohol use, teen pregnancies, teen incarceration, and bullying.
– 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. Therefore children’s contact with their parents are predicated more on which judge hears a case rather than the actual circumstances of the dispute. The number one cause of children being raised without one of their parents (usually Fathers) is court orders issued by the state government.
The Children’s Equal Access Act creates uniform guidelines for these cases. The Children’s Equal Access Act also includes clarifying language that “there shall be a rebuttable presumption” in favor of shared parenting for responsible parents. This same language was introduced in a previous child custody bill written by the Family Law section of the Alabama State Bar.
“The Children’s Equal Access Act will improve family court practices making outcomes more reliably consistent with fundamental rights, with prior legislative statements of public policy, and with sociological research regarding lifetime success and happiness for children.” Attorney Austin Burdick, Burdick Law Firm
The key components of the Children’s Equal Access Act requires:
– Parents to submit a parenting plan in all cases, so the courts have a written idea of the parents’ desires;
– The court to indicate why joint custody is not in the best interest of the child when deviating from rebuttal presumption.
Nothing in SB266 references 50/50 custody or mandates the courts to order 50/50 in any case. The Children’s Equal Access Act simply creates an equitable starting point with guidelines to follow similar to existing child support guidelines.
The Alabama Family Rights Association (ALFRA) has been the only organization in the state that has consistently advocated to protect children’s relationships with both of their parents, unless there is evidence indicating otherwise.
SB266 is more than changing a law, it’s about changing the lives of our children.
Contact: Debbie Zeiger, State VP
Phone: (205) 626-9458
Common Myths & Misconceptions Here