Monday, May 09, 2005

Divorce should not shortchange children - New Hampshire

Full article at Foster's Online

Excerpts below:

HB 640, passed by the House and currently before the state Senate Judiciary Committee, aims to change this mercenary practice. If successful, the bill would redefine parental rights and responsibilities based on the needs of the children, not how much a custodial parent is paid.

Currently, child-custody and support guidelines assign a value to each child. It is not based on need or real-world costs, but rather mathematics. For example, for one youngster that amount is 25 percent of a non-custodial parent’s income. For four children, it is 45 percent.

The result, as recognized by the Commission to Study Child Support and Related Custody Issues established under former Gov. Craig Benson, is a custody fight based on how much money the custodial parent can be awarded by the court, not a child’s needs.

HB 640 would require both parents to develop a written parenting plan, describing each parent’s rights and responsibilities.

In cases where either parent is not forthcoming, the court would be authorized to develop the parenting plan.

The bill stresses the need to keep both parents involved. It encourages parents to “share” in raising their children after being separated or divorced, rather than fighting for sole custody.

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