As anyone who has been through a child custody battle is likely aware, the process can be long and difficult. While it is fairly widely recognized that when possible, it is best for a child to have both parents play an active role in his or her life, the reality is this is not always how custody arrangements work out. Fathers in particular could find it difficult to secure equal time with the child.
In the state of Alabama, there are laws in place that provide general guidelines regarding child custody. Currently, even when both parents are considered fit, the approach most courts take is to award one parent with custody of the children and provide the other parent visitation rights. In most cases visitation is broken out as several holidays a year, a full week in the summer when school is out, and every other weekend the rest of the year.
If passed, a bill before Alabama lawmakers would modify the existing approach. Among other things, House Bill 333 would:
- Move away from the current custody model wherein one parent is awarded sole physical custody while the other has visitation rights
- Require the submission of a parenting plan even when parents are not seeking joint custody
- Make it possible for the court to create parenting plans when parents cannot do so themselves
- Provide additional remedies when a parent does not follow the time sharing schedule as laid out in the parenting plan, without proper cause.
Not everyone is pleased with the proposed legislation. The president of Alabama Family Rights Association believes that in failing to provide the definition of frequent and continued contact, HB 333 effectively preserves the status quo.
Whether the bill will become law remains to be seen. We will provide relevant updates on the matter when they become available. In the meantime, if you need assistance with a child custody matter, Daniel H. Chambers, Attorney at Law, P.C., located in Birmingham, may be able to help. Contact Mr. Chambers for a free initial consultation.