This year Fathers and Families led the passage of seven different family law bills nationwide, as Governor Schwarzenegger recently signed the remaining three California F & F bills. F & F was also instrumental in helping defeat three harmful bills. The seven bills we were instrumental in passing include:
1. Alimony Reform (CA. SB 1482): Parents who face alimony increases after their child support ends will now be able to demand a vocational examination for their ex-spouses, and judges are required to calculate alimony based on the examiner”s estimate of the ex-spouse”s earning capacity.
2. Child Custody Protection for Military Parents (CA. AB 2416): Creates a rebuttable presumption that upon a servicemember”s return from deployment, child custody and visitation orders will revert to the original order. Allows judges to award a deployed parent”s parenting time to grandparents or stepparents so that deployed parents can’t have their contact with their children severed by the custodial parent. This also helps to maintain and nurture children”s bonds with their deployed parent”s family.
3. Child Custody/Visitation Reform (CA. SB 1188): Will help prevent family court litigants from using a parent’s disability as a way to deprive them of child custody or visitation.
4 & 5. Protection Against Family Court Financial Abuses (Arizona HB 2358 & Indiana HB 1165) F & F helped pass bills in both Arizona and Indiana which protected disabled veterans from family court financial abuses. Both bills were inspired by and modeled on SB 285, a bill we helped pass in California in 2009.
6. Child Support Reform (CA. SB 580) The high cost of medical care is a burden for everybody, but the healthcare obligations family court judges throw onto noncustodial parents can be devastating. SB 580 will ensure that noncustodial parents aren”t saddled with an unreasonably high percentage of their children”s medical care costs.
7. Child Support Reform (CA. SB 1355) Many young fathers who were incarcerated for nonviolent offenses face crushing child support debts which accrued (at 10% interest) while they were behind bars. These debts make it difficult for them to play a meaningful role in their children”s lives. This bill suspends child support from accruing while the obligor is institutionalized.
Legislative work isn”t just about passing good bills–it”s also about defeating harmful ones. There is a nationwide reactionary backlash against recognition of Parental Alienation, and California is the battleground where it is being fought. The California National Organization for Women and the powerful, well-funded Center for Judicial Excellence in Northern California are leading the backlash, and Fathers and Families has been at the forefront of fighting it. Bills F & F helped defeat this year include:
1. Parental Alienation in Family Court (CA. AB 612): AB 612 would have prevented target parents of Parental Alienation from even uttering the words “Parental Alienation’ in family court, and custody evaluators and mediators would have been prohibited from citing alienation.
2. Custody Evaluators and Parental Alienation (CA. AB 2475): A complicated bill but the bottom line is that it would have led to child custody evaluators and mediators being punished for making findings of Parental Alienation.
3. Children and Medical Care (MA HB 930): Fathers & Families opposed and testified against HB 930, a bill supported by the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association that would have further marginalized noncustodial parents in relation to their children’s medical needs.
As good as 2010 has been, 2011 will be better. We have an ambitious, exciting legislative agenda for 2011 on which we will soon be soliciting member input. The Fathers & Families model works. We want you to be a part of it–to get involved, please click here.
Together with you in the love of our children,
Glenn Sacks, MA
Executive Director, Fathers and Families
Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.
Founder, Chairman of the Board, Fathers and Families