Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Bill would outlaw blocking visitation - Alabama



Alabama parents who interfere with court visitation orders in child custody cases could face jail time.

The Alabama Legislature is considering making it a crime to willfully obstruct child visitation. Members of the House Judiciary Committee will meet this week to take up House Bill 683, a proposal that would make interference a Class "C" felony.

"I've gotten so many complaints through the years about the custodial parent being uncooperative with the noncustodial parent," said bill sponsor Rep. Steve McMillan, R-Gulf Shores. "When the noncustodial parent is supposed to see their children on Saturday morning, we want to make sure that they do see their children on Saturday morning.

Also on Wednesday, members of the House Judiciary Committee will consider another McMillan-sponsored bill, House Bill 650, a measure creating a shared parenting arrangement for divorcing and separating parents.

Currently, courts may order some form of joint custody without the consent of both parents. McMillan's proposal would ask for mutual formal consent.

Parents would be required to develop a comprehensive parenting plan to address such issues as the child's education, day care, health insurance and visitation, McMillan said. Either parent could submit the outline or they could present a joint plan.

"Ideally, it would be best if they could sit down and discuss it and work it out," he said.

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