4 Things the 2019 Proposed Parenting Laws Change
1. They establish that 50/50 parenting time should be the norm.
The new laws establish equal parenting time in ALL cases. In legal terms, a “presumption” is not just a pretty word. It’s a legal suggestion that the courts must make in cases where the presumption applies. A legal presumption gets rid of judge’s subjectivity and requires them to “presume” that something is true without any proof that it is. The proposed shared parenting laws would require judges to assume that every parent should have equal parenting time, regardless of the facts and circumstances of their case. That’s a significant change from the current laws. Laws today don’t presume that parenting time should be equal or unequal.
2. They change the burden of proof.
Right now, when a judge decides on parenting time he/she bases it on the “majority of the evidence.” That’s a legal standard of proof that requires someone to prove that something is truer than not. Under the new laws, when judges award anything other than 50/50 parenting time, he/she must base it on “clear and convincing evidence”. That’s a lot more proof. It requires a parent to prove definitively that something is true (no more hearsay rulings). That’s significantly harder to do than proving that something is more than 50% true.
3. They change WHAT a parent must prove to get more than 50/50 parenting time.
Currently, parents must prove that the parenting schedule they want is in the children’s best interests. Parents must prove this no matter what kind of parenting schedule they are proposing. Under pending legislation, a parent wanting anything other than 50/50 parenting time must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the other parent’s time would seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health. That’s significantly different than requiring a parent to prove that them having more or less parenting time is best for their kids.
4. They require written court opinions from the judge.
Finally, many of the new and proposed laws would require trial judges to write detailed written opinions justifying any award that doesn’t grant 50/50 parenting time. If you aren’t familiar with the court system, that requirement seems simple. If you are familiar with the court system, this requirement imposes a huge burden on most judges. Given their enormous caseloads, most trial judges don’t currently provide written opinions in most cases. Writing opinions takes a lot of time that judges don’t have. Requiring judges to start writing opinions, should make them hesitate to order anything outside of 50/50 custody (unless there was an absolutely glaring need to do so).