Family Law Updates Around the Nation
Arizona - In Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer signed SB1073 into law. This bill requires custody hearings to take place within 60 days of the date of motion filing. The bill will have a positive effect on bringing an end to the strategy of constantly delaying hearing in order to keep one parent out of their child's life.
Florida - Will Florida become a true Shared Parenting state? We are congratulating Florida Alimony Reform and their supporters after the state senate passed SB718 on Thursday by a vote of 29-11. The bill improves Florida's antiquated alimony law and practices.
Of great interest to shared parenting supporters is the provision within the bill which states; "Equal time-sharing with a minor child by both parents is in the best interest of the child unless the court finds that: ..."
This bill has one more vote in the full House and then it's on to the governor for signature. We can't wait to see it enacted. In 2008 Florida revised its custody statutes with the goal that the update would lead to greater shared parenting. After four years of mixed results, the legislature is coming back to finish the job.
Illinois - A right of first refusal bill, drafted by the sponsors of this newsletter, Illinois Fathers, passed out of committee in the house this last week and headed to the floor for a vote. This bill provides the other parent with first crack at caring for their child in the event the primary residential parent needs a child care provider. No more sending the child to a babysitter when the other parent is available to do the job. Every state should have this kind of law. ACFC believes the most under-utilized parent in America today is the "other" parent.
Maryland - A bill establishing a committee to study family law has passed the full House and is out of committee on the Senate side. A full Senate vote is expected shortly. Citizens in Maryland have been working to pass shared parenting legislation for years. This bill provides an opportunity for various stakeholders to come together and hammer out a statutory scheme that works for children and parents. The bill specifically indicates members of father and non-custodial parent interest groups are to have committee representation.
Nebraska - We expect LB22 to come out of committee within the next two weeks. This bill is modeled on the custody legislation which passed in Arizona last year. It appears many Arizona parents are receiving equal or near equal time with the kids as a result of the changes which went into effect in January.
There is significant opposition to LB22 coming from the 'usual suspects.' Lawyers and domestic violence groups are leading the resistance. That said there are also a number of lawyers supporting the bill stating 'on record' that it's time too fix a broken custody system.
Stay tuned for more updates in future newsletters.