Alabama Family Rights Association gives OK to split-custody bill


The Alabama Family Rights Association released a rundown Friday on a bill it is backing that would make split custody the starting point in child custody cases.

SB 186, sponsored by Sen. Larry Stutts, would put mothers and fathers who split up on equal footing by making a 50/50 divide the starting point in child custody cases.

The release notes the testimony from Julie A. Palmer, a former elected judge who despite signing up to testify as an opponent of the bill, ended up praising it for provisions that would create a presumption that both parents are fit to make parenting decisions, and the reordering of factors judges consider when assigning custody, among other things.

AFRA also highlighted the testimony of 17-year-old Tamar Watts, who spoke from the heart about her experience with week-on-week-off custody with her parents.

“I believe this schedule has given me an opportunity to have a healthy relationship with each parent that I would not have gotten seeing one parent only every other weekend,” she said. “While there is no easy way for a family to deal with divorce, SB 186 is the only way to handle it,” she continued.

The future Auburn University student went on to say that the every-other-weekend model is outdated, citing that the current 20 percent minimum for parents sharing custody is “not enough time.”

The testimony happened during a Wednesday meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, though the committee did not vote on the bill during the meeting. AFRA said a vote is expected next week, possibly when the committee meets March 7.