Child custody; judge shall communicate basis for decision, except in certain cases. (HB84)

Introduced By

Del. Dave Albo (R-Springfield) with support from co-patrons Del. Jim LeMunyon (R-Oak Hill), Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), and Del. Jim Scott (D-Merrifield)

Progress

Introduced
Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law

Description

Child custody; communication of decision. Provides that the judge's required communication of the basis for his decision regarding child custody or visitation, except in cases of a consent order for custody or visitation, shall set forth the judge's findings regarding the relevant statutory factors used to determine the best interests of the child. Read the Bill »

Outcome

Bill Has Passed

History

DateAction
12/21/2011Committee
12/21/2011Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/11/12 12102241D
12/21/2011Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/13/2012Assigned Courts sub: Civil
01/23/2012Subcommittee recommends reporting with amendment(s) (9-Y 0-N)
01/30/2012Reported from Courts of Justice with substitute (17-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
01/30/2012Committee substitute printed 12104604D-H1
02/01/2012Read first time
02/02/2012Read second time
02/02/2012Committee substitute agreed to 12104604D-H1
02/02/2012Engrossed by House - committee substitute HB84H1
02/03/2012Read third time and passed House BLOCK VOTE (100-Y 0-N)
02/03/2012VOTE: BLOCK VOTE PASSAGE (100-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/06/2012Constitutional reading dispensed
02/06/2012Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
02/20/2012Reported from Courts of Justice (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/21/2012Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/22/2012Read third time
02/22/2012Passed Senate (38-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/27/2012Enrolled
02/27/2012Bill text as passed House and Senate (HB84ER)
02/27/2012Signed by Speaker
02/28/2012Signed by President
03/23/2012G Approved by Governor-Chapter 358 (effective 7/1/12)
03/23/2012G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0358)

Video

This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 1 clip in all, totaling 3 minutes.

Comments

Diane Poljacik writes:

Dear Del. Albo,

I wholeheartedly agree with this bill and I applaud you for introducing it. I also think it should go one step further in addressing unmarried fathers as well. Children should never be considered "collateral damage" in a divorce (or the break up of two unmarried parents)and yet they are. Children need BOTH loving, actively involved parents and I truly believe the court has no business taking that right from children...treating them as though they are "marital property". The courts should be protecting childrens rights to maintain a loving relationship with each of their parents, despite how their parents have grown to feel about each other.

Courts have been creating more harm than good. The courts still consider mothers as "caregivers" and fathers as "breadwinners", which is an archaic way of thinking. These thought processes date back to a time when most mothers stayed home with the children while most fathers worked outside of the home. These days most fathers are just as actively involved with their children and most moms are also employed outside of the home. Judges are human beings...so why cant they understand this shift should pertain to how they currently order parenting between a father and mother? And what I really don't understand is why is any father is put in the position of having to hire an attorney to "protect his rights" when he has done NOTHING to put those rights in jeopardy??? Why does family court cost so much when parents have done NOTHING that would put their parental roles in jeopardy? In what other area of law are the peoples rights so infringed? The only people benefiting from the current system are the who charge parents upwards of $250.00 per hour for their "expertise". A high percentage of these parents are barely making ends meet! Many parents are earning minimum wage paychecks but even those who make $18-$25 per hour or more are still saddled with enormous debt obtained while trying to "protect" their rights from the Judges who are trying to take them away. Why?

In regards to custody, I would like for anyone to answer how its determined that "stability" in a child's life is found by tearing one parent out of their life and demeaning the role of that parent entirely and only allowing a mere 4 days (on average) of "visitation" with their child. The courts demean the role of the father by calling their parenting time "visitation" instead of "co-parenting". Visitation by definition, is not permanent...but parenting is...so why do the courts insist that fathers roles in their children;s lives are not permanent. Prisoners have visitors...not children....children have FATHERS!!! Which is ironic really, because studies repeatedly show that children from single parent homes are more apt to get in trouble with the law than children who have both parents actively involved in their lives.

I hear in court all the time that its not in the child's best interest to "bounce them back and forth" from one parent to another" and yet no one listens to the children who say they WANT to spend equal time with both
parents? Children will adapt to any schedule that their parents allow them to adapt to.

Its time the courts stop "awarding" children to one parent or the other...they are not prizes, they are human beings who have the right to have a loving relationship with both of their parents regardless of how those parents feel about each other. Those in power need to understand this and take action now.

If parents know they are equal in the eyes of the law, they are more likely to work together on a co parenting schedule that is in their children's best interests. Currently mediation is FREE to parties in Virginia and as a mediator I can honestly say that parties who choose NOT to mediate (for free) and instead choose to spend the money on an attorney, typically are parties who "know" they are going to "win" in court anyway. So why waste time trying to come up with a co-parenting plan if you know you are going to be "awarded" your children anyway?

I see fathers on a daily basis who are beat down by a system that prefers finance over emotional well being when it comes to raising a child. (the courts will readily strip a man of his license or thrown him in jail over child support payments, even if he is unable to pay through no fault of his own...BUT they refuse to take the custody and visitation "orders" as seriously. it is very rare to find a mother jailed for refusing to abide by the custody or visitation court order. This also sends the message to the child that their father is just a paycheck and if he doesnt "pay mom" he is going to jail...meanwhile, mom can keep the kids from their paying visitor (father) without any repercussions. This is also something else that needs to change within the system. Custody, visitation and support are ALL court orders and should be treated the same when they are being broken).

Thank you for your time and patience and thank you for introducing this bill that would allow children equal access to both of their fit and loving parents.

Diane Poljacik

C T Maloney writes:

Absolutely. I lost my children in 2 marriages- no fault of mine. YOu have to accept death of a child, but you keep on hopeing for a resolution when separated from a child, and often there is no resolution, if the child is brainwashed badly. Germany is the worst. The Jugendamt has the mandate to keep foreign divorced parents out of the country so the child will be raised 100% German. It happened to my 3 children there, and to many many thousands of others.

Helen Gregory writes:

Dear Del. Albo,
Thank you for introducting hb84. I believe this is the right thing to do for children and dads. I also J&D court judges have a anti-maale bias. Dads love their children too and want to be active in their lives but some moms and the courts don't. There are many stats that prove children do better when both parents are actively involved in their lives. For fathers day give the gift of sharred parenting. Dad will thank you. Kids will too.
Thank you,
Helen

Mark Brenzie writes:

Dear Del. Albo,

I go to bed each night praying for more time with my children. I have heard multiple Judges say in open court that they do not believe in joint custody. This empowers mothers to do as they please and leaves fathers feeling like ATM machines who miss their children. This works in several other states and it can work here as well. Fathers are not visitors but equal parents who should be treated as such. Thank you for proposing this bill. I hope others can see how important this is to Virginia families.

Thanks Again,
Mark

MARSHAMAINEStm writes:

If I had not witnessed it for myself, I would NEVER have believed that 85% of all the cases DCSE "manages" are based on completely ILLEGAL actions. Even Sexual Predatory females are granted "immunity" when proven to have prostituted their bodies and used family relatives "in the DSS systems" to HUNT, STALK, DEFAME, and even have local Sheriffs VIOLATE their OATHS of Office to cover up and defend this FEDERAL PROGRAM called "child support Enforcement" being UN-LAWFULLY ADMINISTERED by state slave masters. William Wilberforce could not free the Sovereign Human Beings being SOLD OUT by fellow Americans - for FEDERAL MONEY. People are being MURDERED over alleged UNVERIFIED - "claims" - Claims - Allegations - of "debt" that does not, has not, ever even Existed...Is EVERYBODY still asleep? Governor McDonnell, the mafia has called - they left you a message "stop emulating them"...

Diane writes:

This bill has unfortunately changed dramatically from the one that was introduced. This one that is now flying through without a hitch does nothing to change anything important. Judges are already supposed to communicate the basis for their decision, so what does this bill change?

D'Arcy L McGreer writes:

What is now the bill is not the orginal bill I and Dave Albo worked on together. The original bill had the additional item that only in a situation of no-fault divorce then each parent would receive a minimum of 40% of their child's time in raising their child with a rebuttable presumption. In this way children get the raising input much more equally from his or her father or mother. Fathers and mothers are unique in how they relate to their children. Generally a child receives the best kind of childhood when he or she receives constant and on-going input from his or her father and mother. This is why children from intact families generally do much better in school, are healthier and do better later in their marriages. This much more equal parenting in divorce than what has existed for decades in the Commonwealth was only to take place in no-fault divorces. This eliminated the problem of divorce being based on fault grounds in which it is more likely that it would not be good to mandate that each parent have a minimum of 40% of their child time. But, the original legislation had an additional escape clause out of this mandate of 40%, it had the item, “rebuttable presumption.” This means the judge could still not go by this mandate of 40% for each parent for good and necessary cause or reason. I was the one who gave this basic input to Delegate Dave Albo and in which he submitted to the House of Delegates. It was my hope that in no-fault divorce that even though one or both parents refuse to live together in marriage, that the debilitating effects of divorce would be lessoned with the original wording of HB84 that I had presented to Delegate Dave Albo. As secretary of Fathers for Virginia and Kenneth Skilling who is a member, we had hoped the long winter of family destruction in Virginia would start to come to an end. Anyone interested in working on this issue and wishing to end this winter, please contact me, D’Arcy L McGreer, at father4va5atgmail.com. Replace the “at” with “@.”