Some of you might be asking yourself this. Its easy to get cynical when you grow up believing the courts are fair and justice is served in them. Sometimes it is. A Lot of times it isn't. This is especially true in family court cases.
But HB 85 will most certainly improve the outcomes of both contested and non-contested divorces in Alaska and my response to "Anonymous" a few minutes ago on another thread will spell it out.
Not a good idea in Alaska! Judges do not follow the best interests of the child according to law as it currently stands. Even with an appointed custody investigator, expert witnesses, etc.
They do not do so because they do not have to. Like you already pointed out - The current best interests standard allows them to do whatever they feel like on any given day. Which could be entirely different then how they feel about something tomorrow.
It's called discretion and we are told they require it to make good choices. Well, I would argue on the good choices part, but before we even get their how about some kind of consistency?
How we stop giving a mother full custody in one case where she is a stay at home mom and so has the time required to care for the children in a manner they are accustomed to and call it the best interest of the children. While the next day a stay home dad loses custody because he needs to get a job and stop being a dead beat so the working mother is obviously whats in the best interest of the children.
That's only a single example of 100's of contradictions that fill our courts daily. Askl 100 judges what the definition of "The best interests of a child" are, and you will receive 100 different answers. Worse ask the same 100 judges tomorrow what is meas and you'll now have 200 answers from 100 judges.
There is literally no legal definition of what the best interests even means. Though there are nine factors used in determining X. Each of them is a subjective variable.
This means the best interests of the child in today's courtroom is determined in this manner.
M+L+N+O+P+Q+R+S+T = X
It;s no wonder you don't feel like they are following the law concerning the best interests as it now sits. Because what you think it is will be different than what anyone else thinks it is.
Now this bill suddenly goes and defines for judges what is the best interests actually is. Isn't that a concept? Before we had 9 variables determining a 10th variable. Whats great about this bill is it defines the best interest of the child to be the same thing that the child psychology community has come to a consensus on. That being the children's best interests are served when BOTH parents are equally involved. It reads like this....
There is a 04 rebuttable presumption that shared physical custody, joint legal custody, and 05 substantially equal parenting time for each parent of the child are in the best 06 interests of the child. The court shall advise parents in a dispute over child 07 custody of the rebuttable presumption. The presumption may be overcome by 08 clear and convincing evidence that shared physical custody, joint legal custody, 09 and substantially equal parenting time are not in the best interests of the child.
That may seem to be common sense, but trust me it's not. There are alot of biased people out there and they seek confirmation bias from others and intelligence and education is no protection from it. Judges are drowning n their biases just like the rest of the human species. Can they override this new presumption? Sure they can. They do need some discretion and we don't want true abusers allowed to have control of the children and use them as leverage against the other parent. We don't want parents with substance abuse problems or alcohol related dependencies to be considered equally beneficial to Alaska's children. But there is another fantastic addition in there above and beyond the actual defining for the first time in Alaska history what the best interests actually means.
Its "Clear and convincing evidence".
Well Hallelujah !!!
Before this the court went off a "preponderance of the evidence" Which is another way of saying let's give the judge MORE discretion. You know because when they are presented with two stories they don't just want to choose which one they like best that day as the best interest of the child. They need more power than just that!! They need to back their decision up sometimes. So with a preponderance they get to also arbitrarily decide who they believe, what parts of each story they believe and what parts they don't. They can mix and match the two stories any which way it pleases themt. They don't actually need any evidence of any kind at all.
Because that whole requiring evidence thing before you seperate children from parents is a big pain in the rear.
Well guess what. With Clear and convincing evidence they now have a standard of evidence they must adhere to. Its not as high as "beyond a reasonable doubt" but it is HUGE. Placed next to a "Preponderance of evidence" it is night and day.
It's like saying, you will be considered innocent of the other parents allegations unless proven guilty. Unless there is evidence that shows it to be true.
Before with a "preponderance" the allegation itself could be all he evidence that was required. You remember the Salem Witch hunts in Massachusetts in the 1600's?
Or that movie The Crucible? Remember that? It was about the Salem witch trials. Thing was terrifying ! I remember when I got down watching it I was looking around thinking some one might point at me and start accusing me of witchcraft!!
Well. then I went through family court and I can tell you, the Salem Witch trials had more due process then our family court does today.
This Bill is going to place a lot of children who would have otherwise grown up with one parent minimized in their life into the home of two loving parents and it is going to do wonders for our society
It is not only the smart thing to do. It is the RIGHT THING to do.
Mr. George Rauscher and cosponsor David Eastham
I would like to extend to you my sincere gratitude for HB 85. Not only am I and a great number of people I know are grateful for it. About half a million and growing over The Fathers' Rights Movement over 3500 over at The Alaska Fathers' Rights Movement. But it's not just all of them that are grateful.
Every single person in Alaska who is a mother, a father, an aunt, an uncle or has a friend that has a child owes you a debt of gratitude whether they realize it or not.
Hopefully they will owe the rest of the legislature elect that passes it a debt of gratitude as well.
Because this is NOT only an Alaska issue, this is a global issue and the entire western world has eyes on the legislation of more then 20+ states this year that have equal parenting legislation in their committees right now and that their legislative bodies will be voting on.
To those of you in the legislative bodies of this country that have these bills sitting in front of you to be voted on, I ask you this.........
What side of history will your recorded vote be on??