Parenting Plans. In dissolution or legal separation cases in which there are minor children, the court must establish a parenting plan that provides for the care of the minor children. The parenting plan must include an allocation of decision-making authority to one or both parents and establish a residential schedule for the child. The residential schedule designates in which parent's home the child resides on given days of the year. A court must consider specific factors when determining the child's residential schedule.
Limitations of Parenting Plans. A parenting plan shall not require mutual decision making if the court finds a parent has engaged in any of the following conduct:
A parent's residential time with the child shall be limited if the court finds the parent or another person who resides with the parent has engaged in any of the following conduct:
The court may preclude or limit any provisions of the parenting plan, if any of the following factors exist:
Modification of Parenting Plans. A court may order adjustments to the residential aspects of a parenting plan upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances with respect to either parents or the child, if the proposed modification is only a minor modification, the modification does not change the residence the child is scheduled to reside in the majority of the time, and, among other considerations, the court finds it is in the best interest of the child to increase residential time with the parent with whom the child does not reside a majority of the time.
The bill redrafts and reorganizes much of the law which the court uses to impose limitations on the parenting plan. An intent is added to the law.
Intent. The parent-child relationship is a fundamental right. Spending time with a child and making significant decisions that affect a child's health and education are essential to the exercise of that fundamental right. Parents are responsible for protecting and preserving the health and well-being of their minor child. When a parent acts contrary to the health and well-being of their child, the court may, and in some situations must, impose limitations intended to protect a child from harm.
Substantive Changes. Most of the law is retained without substantive change. The bill streamlines or clarifies existing law. The language for the intent section is found in existing case law.
There is a substantive change in the bill related to decision-making and dispute resolution. The current law has the following language: “The permanent parenting plan shall not require mutual decision-making.” The bill has the following language: “a court shall limit joint decision-making and dispute resolution.” The bill increases judicial discretion for allowing decision-making and dispute resolution so long as it is limited.
PRO: Parent child relationship is a fundamental right. Parents must have the ability to spend quality time with their children and make decisions that impact their health and education. There are responsibilities that come with that. When parents act in ways that are harmful to children, it is important that courts have the ability to impose limitations to protect the child. It is critical that laws are very clear in this regard. The intent of this legislation is to make the law about parenting plans easier for families and judicial officers to follow by clarifying language and making it easier to navigate. It makes two changes to the statute regarding what should happen when courts need to impose limitation on both parents because of their conduct and allowing judges some discretion about decision making and dispute resolution when that is needed to serve the best interest of children.
OTHER: 191 restrictions are critical and important under the baseline that procedural due process has occurred when issuing the parenting plan. The threshold for a domestic violence protection order is so low that hearsay is admissible and commissioners, not judges issue civil domestic violence protection orders (DVPOs). The work in front of the committee is to take a holistic approach. This bill is barking up the wrong tree. Judges on family court benches need to be obligated to follow the law and follow the constitution.