Saturday, March 27, 2010

ACFC March Update on shared Parenting Laws and Family Law Reform

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There is a significant bill moving in the Tennessee legislature which would assure parents equal time with their children in the event of divorce if the parents are unable to reach their own parenting plan agreement. 

Tennessee requires divorcing parents to submit a parenting plan to the court on filing of divorce, what's needed to 'close the circle' on the Tennessee statute is enactment of HB 2916.  

I recommend watching the legislative hearings on House Bill 2916, the video's are a real education.  Movement in Tennessee is the result of a team effort.  Hat's off to William Fain, Tony Gottlieb, Walter Brumit and Stanley Charles Thorne as well as the Hopkins family and many others for their efforts in moving this legislation forward.  USA Today carried a story on the bill earlier this week. 

We have created a page dedicated to tracking the bill, related news and hearing video's which is available here.  


The Illinois Family Law Study Committee continues meeting regularly and expects to submit its recommendations for modifying Illinois' divorce and custody statutes to the legislature by year end.  If you are an Illinois resident concerned about the future of family law in the state you should connect with Illinois Fathers at  We'll be calling on you soon to weigh in on this important discussion.  Custody laws typically only undergo significant changes every 10 - 20 years.  The current Illinois statute was enacted in 1977.  

One significant item being discussed is changing the Illinois child support model from a percent of obligor income methodology to income shares.  Illinois is one of only a handful of states still using percent of obligor income as its child support calculation method.  As the name implies only the non-custodial parents income is considered in calculating the support obligation.  

We witnessed a truly gratifying sight in the judiciary committee last month.  HB 925 and HB 950 are shared parenting bills being offered which would move the states custody laws in a significantly positive direction.  925 is being offered by a democrat sponsor while 950 is sponsored by a republican.  When it came time for the bills to be presented by their sponsors, both delegates sat down at the witness table TOGETHER and requested their bills be considered jointly.  

Friends, we have long maintained shared parenting rises above political lines and should be supported regardless of party affiliation.  It was impressive to see the spirit of bipartisanship embraced when both a republican and democrat sat side-by-side and endorsed each others bills for the sake and benefit of our children.  We applaud and thank Democrat delegate Jill Carter and Republican Tony McConkey for recognizing the basic inequality that exists in our family courts and having the courage to take a stand. 

These bills have a long way to go to become law.  As reported in an earlier newsletter Maryland is trying to increase Child Support guideline amounts approximately 30% for the average payer.  Maryland's legislature is controlled by democrats.  Delegate Carter has been attempting to amend her Shared Parenting bill (925) to the child support bill.  She has indicated she considers shared parenting a basic issue of civil rights and has promised to bring the bill every year until it passes.

There is activity going on across the nation for shared parenting.  ACFC has been working continously with our affiliates, volunteers, professional and citizen lobbyists, law makers and their staffs.  As your representative I have presented testimony on all the bills mentioned in this newsletter.  Additionally, ACFC has been providing educational support material to decision makers on the importance of two parent involvement in child development.  We'll report further in an upcoming newsletter.

'The Liberator' should be in your mailbox late next week.  It has been printed and will mail later today.  Our managing editor Kelley Dupuis has put together another great edition.  If you are not receiving 'The Liberator' quarterly you're only getting half the family law reform picture.  You'll be fully in the loop when you join ACFC.  Your membership dues include a one year subscription to the paper.  

We hope you enjoy and are encouraged by the information you read here today.  We want to work with you to bring about change.  The  ACFC website has a tremendous number of resources to assist you.  Please help get the word out by reposting this newsletter on your webpages and blogs.  Please help continue these and other efforts by making a contribution to ACFC.  We appreciate you.

Mike McCormick, Exec. Dir.

        PS use the 'Tell A Friend' link below to forward this message to others interested in family law reform efforts.

ACFC Washington Office 1718 M St. NW. #187 Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: 800-978-3237 Email:

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