Email insight: Activist father continues to push for fairer custody laws

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Activist, father and Alabama Family Rights Association (ALFRA) President, Kenneth Paschal emailed supporters Wednesday urging them to contact their state legislators and ask them to vote no on House Bill 333, a child custody bill.

Sponsored by Andalusia-Republican, State Rep. Mike Jones the bill 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.'”

Read the full email below:

Unfortunately, House Bill (HB) 333, a child custody bill, passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee April 20, 2016. The Judiciary Committee ignored evidence based research supporting shared parenting, and the Alabama Law Institute has refused to acknowledge this research.

Alabama legislators are being told by the Family Law Committee of the Alabama Law Institute and divorce attorneys like Representative Mike Jones that HB 333 is a “starting point bill,” and future change(s) will follow. The problem with this is that HB 333 is based on opinion NOT legal or evidence-based research. (listen to a 3-minute excerpt of the research here)

HB 333 will not equally protect a child’s relationship with both fit parents. Neither will HB 333 act in the best interest of the child as the bill fails to consider scientific research which states “… equal or approximately equal time-sharing with a minor child by both fit parents is in the best interest of the child.”

HB 333 has been placed on the calendar and could be up for a floor vote in the Senate today, Wednesday, April 27, 2016. We need EVERYONE to TAKE ACTION this morning and all day today: call and email your elected official in the Senate. Ask them to vote NO on HB 333 or implement a friendly amendment that states: “there is a presumption that children have equal or approximately equal time-shared parenting time with their fit parents”. (view the bill here)

Be sure to include a reason why the members should vote against House Bill 333. Feel free to use any of the following reasons to explain why committee members should vote “NO” on HB 333:

  • HB 333 fails to align outdated child custody law with current research, which states “equal or approximately equal time-sharing with a minor child by both fit parents is in the best interest of the child.”
  • HB 333 fails to protect the child’s fundamental right to freely associate with both of their parents.
  • HB 333 maintains the status quo, which promotes parental conflict and deprives a child of a quality relationship with both fit parents.
  • HB 333 fails to define “frequent and continuing” contact, which leads to irregularities in child custody rulings. Meaning, without definition, 5 different judges with same facts = 5 different rulings.
    1. Ala Code § 30-3-150. Policy of state: “It is the policy of this state to assure that minor children have frequent and continuing contact with parents”. “Frequent and continuing” contact is not defined. Courts consider “frequent and continuing contact” to include only 1 hour per week, 48 hours twice a month, or could be equal custody.
  • HB 333 does suggest the use of parenting plans, which is good, but when based on outdated, flawed public policy, parenting plans are likely minimally effective, at best.
  • HB 333 does consolidate years of case law into one central location, which may benefit both judges and pro se litigants, as a quick reference, but the bill is rooted in flawed case law that perpetuates the same negative impact of the current status quo.
  • HB 333 does not take into account that there is no statutory requirement for judges or family law attorneys to be trained in family law and attend annual Continuing Legal Education training related to family law.
  • HB 333 fails to provide evidence based guidelines to empower the Courts to meet the needs of each unique case, which leads to a “one size fits all” standard visitation schedule.


Representative                  Office Phone                       Email

Bussman, Paul                    334-242-7855                       p_bussman@bellsouth.net
Holtzclaw, William               334-242-7854                       bill.holtzclaw@alsenate.gov
Orr, Arthur                           334-242-7891                       arthur.orr@alsenate.gov
Reed, Greg                         334-242-7894                       greg.reed@alsenate.gov
Sanford, Paul                      334-242-7867                        paul.sanford@alsenate.gov
Shelnutt, Shay                     334-242-7794                       shay.sd17@gmail.com
Stutts, Larry                         334-242-7862                       larry.stutts@alsenate.gov

Together we can make our voices heard to protect children from being placed at risk. Thank you for your time and for standing up for all children of Alabama.

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