Now in the fifth week of the session, the ISBA legislative team continues to push the ISBA Affirmative Legislative Program, as well as track bills of importance to members. Several related to family law have been introduced this session and are highlighted below.
SF 545 Reinstatement of Parental Rights after Termination: A bill for an act providing for the reinstatement of parental rights following the granting of a termination of parental rights order, under certain circumstances. Requires the DHS or guardian ad litem to notify any eligible children over the age of 12 of their right to petition the court. Requires that the child be over 12 and not have been adopted. Includes exceptions for children under 12 for sibling groups. Requires the court to find by a preponderance of the evidence that holding a hearing is in the best interest of the child and that the former parent remediated their issues that led to the termination and to find by clear and convincing evidence that suspending the termination of parental rights is in the child’s best interest. Makes the initial decision conditional, and requires a second hearing six months later on the matter. Fiscal Note: Annual fiscal impact of SF 545 to the Indigent Defense Fund could be approximately $1 million. The subcommittee recommended passage on Jan. 23, and it will now move to full committee. The ISBA is registered as undecided on the legislation, but members of the legislative committee are generally supportive of the idea, as it has worked in other states.
SF 571 Presumption of Joint Physical Care: This legislative proposal creates a rebuttable presumption that joint physical custody is in the best interest of the child in instances where the court previously awarded joint legal custody. This presumption can only be overcome if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that joint physical custody is not in the best interests of the child. Requires that each parent, together or separately, provide a parenting plan to the court. The subcommittee recommended passage on Jan. 29. The ISBA Family Law Section opposes this legislation and the ISBA legislative team will continue to work in opposition. Here is a link to the position paper.
HF 706 Parenting Time: A bill for an act relating to replacement of the term “visitation” with the phrase “parenting time” in regard to times that a child spends with a parent. The subcommittee recommended passage on Jan. 23. The ISBA supports this legislation.
SF 522 Grandparents Rights: This act relates to grandparent and great-grandparent visitation rights. Specifically, it requires that the parties attempt mediation prior to initiating court proceedings for visitation. In addition, this legislation provides that the petitioner must pay for the costs of mediation. A subcommittee met on Jan. 22, and the three members did not recommend passage. ISBA was registered undecided on this legislation.
You can follow along with all the bills that the ISBA is tracking at this link. The first funnel date, when Senate bills need to be passed out of Senate committees and House bills out of House committees, is Feb. 21.