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May 2, 2012 – Arizona moves closer to Shared Parenting and a New Video from Blue October.

On April 24 the Arizona Senate took a step closer to bringing shared parenting to the states citizens by passing SB1127 with a vote of 28 in favor, 0 against and 2 non-votes.  The House passed the bill several weeks earlier on April 9.  On May 1st the bill was transmitted to the governor for signature.

Back in 2010 the legislature passed a bill expanding the definition of access from frequent and continuing contact to include substantial and meaningful contact.  Like many states, Arizona courts defined frequent and continuing contact, in other words ‘standard visitation,’ as every other weekend for non-custodial parents.  This change in the definition was one step in a broader effort to rework the statutes to provide children more time with both parents.  Even this minor change was opposed by the family law section of the state bar association.  Anecdotal evidence from around the state indicates since the 2010 legislation's enactment judges are granting higher levels of Shared Parenting. 

Arizona has an established Domestic Relations Committee tasked with reviewing and offering suggestions for how to improve state law and family court operations.  The committee is headed by ASU Professor and well known researcher William Fabricius.  SB1127 is the result of several years discussion and work by various stakeholders.   The bill’s result should be greater levels of shared parenting giving children the benefit of a fuller relationship with both parents.  

Highlights include:

  • Eliminating the terms custody and visitation from the code and adopting the terms legal decision making and parenting time.
  • Notes parents who bring false allegations in the context of custody cases are not acting in the child’s best interest and requires the court to sanction parents for this misconduct.
  • In cases where parents do not jointly agree on a parenting plan, instructs the court, consistent with child’s best interest, to implement a parenting plan that gives both parents joint decision making responsibility and maximizes the child’s time with both parents.
  • While this legislation moves in the right direction it also states specifically that joint legal decision making does not mean equal time sharing.  As with any new legislation there will be modifications to the statute going forward.  This bill sends a positive signal to the courts that the legislature wants kids to be more fully engaged with both parents.

ACFC tips the hat to Mike E. for all the hours he has spent these last several years educating policy makers and legislators on the need for Shared Parenting.  Mike has gained the respect of people around the capitol.  His professional approach and dogged determination are yielding results.  It’s been a pleasure to work together and we look forward to continuing the relationship and improving outcomes for kids.

Blue October Releases 3rd Video

Platinum album selling band Blue October recently released “Worry List,” its 3rd video from the Any Man in America (AMIA) album.  AMIA chronicles the divorce and custody story of Blue’s founder and lead singer, Justin Furstenfeld.  The album debuted last fall at number 8 on the billboard charts.  Blue October and ACFC teamed up on the band’s recent tour to promote Shared Parenting and the need for family law reform.  In fact, Justin meet with legislators before their Phoenix concert last September to thank them for their efforts on behalf of the Arizona’s children and families.  Anyone who’s ever experienced denied access to their kids will immediately identify with this video.  Thanks again Justin and Blue October for your efforts on behalf of Shared Parenting.

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