By Julie Garrison
Special to DadsDivorce.com
State legislatures begin during the first or second week of January and continue until sometime in the summer.
Some of the 2013 fathers’ rights bills did not make it through the circuitous legislative process, depending upon the state and the bill. Many of these will be resumed and completed in 2014.
Here are a few of the dad-friendly bills to be decided in 2014:
Alabama’s Children’s Equal Protection Act equalizes the rights of both parents with the implementation and enforcement of parenting plans and establishes that “fit” parents have fundamental rights to make decisions for their children.
This proposed law is an important step in making fathers equal to mothers, thus removing a dad from the “weekend visitor” category and elevating him to the place where he has always belonged – as an equal partner with the child’s mother.
It also erases the adversarial mindset that transfers from the divorce to post-divorce custody matters.
In short, this proposed law levels the playing field.
HB248 increases the time after a child’s birth that the father has to file an action to establish paternity prior to an adoption or to file a notice with the Putative Father Registry, from no later than 15 days to no later than 60 days.
This proposed legislation is in the hands of the House, Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities Committee and will hopefully be decided in 2014 and signed into law.
SB30 seeks to eliminate language that allows for a child support obligation to run until the end of the school year after the child reaches 19 years of age. This is a small but important change for dads’ rights advocates.
If passed, it will make all orders for support run until the child turns 18 years of age or until the child is married or becomes self-supporting, as determined by the court, whichever occurs first, or past the age of 18 years if the child is enrolled and still attending high school, not to exceed high school graduation.
There are still provisions for support continuing past a child’s 18th birthday if he or she is disabled or by other order of the court.
On the National Scene
The U.S. Congress has continued its concern for connecting fathers with their children. One legislative proposal would provide $580 million over a period of 10 years to responsible fatherhood programs.
There are a number of other bills at various stages before Congress that supports other fatherhood causes. Some are continuations of previously funded programs while others are new proposed legislation.
Change is in the Wind
As is finally becoming apparent, all states, along with the U.S. Congress, are making progress in equalizing family law issues for dads. These changes are well overdue.
Expect to see a rising tide of dad-friendly legislation in 2014 to keep up with a dads’ rights movement that is gaining validity and support across the nation.
Divorced dads can look forward to the pro-dad legislation that 2014 will bring.
Julie Garrison has been writing articles and short stories for the past 10 years and has appeared in several magazines and e-zines.