By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, March 10, Alabama Family Rights Association (ALFRA) President Kenneth Paschal urged legislators to vote NO on House Bill 333, sponsored by State Representative Mike Jones (R-Andalusia) or to pass it with an ALFRA endorsed amendment.
President Paschal wrote, “House Bill 333 is up for a floor vote in the House of Representatives on Thursday, March 10, 2016. We are asking that you vote NO on HB 333 or submit the attached amendment.”
Paschal continued, “Although HB 333 suggests that children should have “frequent and continuing” contact with their parents; the bill fails to define frequent and continued, and preserves the status quo of standard visitation, which unduly restricts a child to 4-6 days a month with one parent.”
According to Paschal, “Experts in family systems, psychology, sociology, and the like have presented 40 studies, and 112 social scientists around the world have reached a consensus on shared parenting which states “…equal or approximately equal time-sharing with a minor child by both fit parents is in the best interest of the child.”
President Paschal said, “The proposed bill ignores this research. As a result, HB333 fails to equally protect the parent-children relationship with both fit parents, and places Alabama children at risk for juvenile imprisonment, teen pregnancy, suicide, drug use, and sex trafficking.”
Paschal quoted in his letter, Judge Billy Bell, a member of the ALI Family Law Committee said, “As you know, I am a strong proponent of joint custody of equal periods for fit parents, and I think there needs to be a really strong rewording of the present Act to make that an award of equal periods of joint custody to be a rebuttable presumption that can only be overcome by clear and convincing evidence. I am also in favor of a requirement for findings of fact to be made, if joint custody is not awarded.” Judge Billy Bell, Huntsville, Alabama.”
HB333’s synopsis says, “Existing law specifies that it is the policy of this state that parents who are divorced or separated have frequent and continuing contact with their children. Existing law also specifies that joint custody does not necessarily mean equal physical custody. This bill would revise existing definitions regarding custody to be consistent with terminology used in case law and to move away from the concept that one parent has sole physical custody, while the other parent has visitation rights. Existing law requires the parties in a child custody matter to submit a parenting plan only in cases where the parties request joint custody. This bill would require the parties to submit a parenting plan in all cases. This bill would also authorize the court to establish a parenting plan when the parties are unable to agree upon one. This bill would specify additional remedies to a party when a parent, without proper cause, fails to adhere to the time sharing schedule in a parenting plan including makeup parenting time and reimbursement for costs and attorney fees.”
According to their website, “The Alabama Family Rights Association educates others to the importance of the parent-child relationship, placing an emphasis on family, and support children have the active involvement of both parents. ALFRA advocates safeguarding constitutional rights of children and parents, and supports change to all laws, including the 1852 Alabama child custody law, which creditable scientific research indicates places a negative impact upon children and society.”
ALFRA is not satisfied that HB333 goes far enough toward their goals.
HB333 has been approved by a House committee and could be on the floor of the Alabama House of Representatives as soon as Tuesday.