Featured News 2014 Child Custody Laws Under Scrutiny in Many States

Child Custody Laws Under Scrutiny in Many States

Lawmakers in many states are reviewing current child custody laws as advocates of "shared-parenting" laws are calling for legislation that would mandate shared custody in divorces where there has been no emotional, physical, or substance abuse. On the other hand, opponents say that it should still be up to a judge's discretion to look over all the factors in a child custody case in order to decide whether or not there should be shared parenting, that a child's best interests should not be dictated by law. For example, they argue that if shared parenting is made mandatory, this could keep victims of domestic abuse from being able to protect their children from an unfair situation, as they do not always have documents such as restraining orders to help prove that there has been abuse. Keep reading to learn about recent and potential changes in some child custody laws in the United States.

In Arkansas, it used to be that the law expressly held joint custody out as bad option in a divorce, but last year, a new law was passed that now says divorces should result in a child custody arrangement that gives "approximate and reasonable equal division of time" to both parents. It is too soon to know what impact this law will have, but it certainly opens up the door to vastly different outcomes than before.

The General Assembly in Connecticut reviewed its statutes on family law, assembling a task force to specifically look into matters such as whether or not shared custody should be favored by the law. Friday, January 30 was slated as the day their report should come out. Similarly, Maryland's General Assembly wanted to determine such issues. By next December, the newly formed Commission on Child Custody Decision Making is set to give its report on the matter.

A Massachusetts task force is prepared to recommend a new law that is said to advance child custody laws by enabling joint custody to be awarded in more divorces. South Dakota's state bar association, on the other hand, opposes changes to the law that would start child custody cases assuming that there should be an equal division of child custody. The association is offering a different version of a shared parenting bill which would allow judges to keep a great deal of decision-making power.

Last year, Florida passed a bill that would introduce alimony reform as well as mandate shared parenting, but this was vetoed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott. A law in Minnesota that would have mandated a minimum custody of 35 percent (up from 25 percent) was vetoed by Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton.

Most Americans agree with joint custody, say numerous polls. There are also changing perceptions and roles, as an increasing percentage of men are in the role of caretaker now. Then there is the fact that laws have continued to favor custodial parents, giving non-custodial parents fewer and fewer legal rights, causing them to argue for shared parenting laws that would enable them to see their children more. There are some experts who acknowledge that joint custody is impracticable or wrong in certain situations, but that when the default is for one spouse to be the custodial parent, leaving the other with some visitation rights as the non-custodial parent, spouses have strong motivation to battle the issue out.

Any matter of family law is going to be subject to constantly changing rules, and these rules also vary a great deal from state to state. With matters of such important, matters that will decide you and your family's future, you cannot afford to be without the best divorce lawyer possible. Find the legal advocate you deserve on our directory today!

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