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Introduced Senate Bill (S)

DIGEST

Child custody and parenting time. Adds stalking to the definition of "domestic or family violence" for purposes of family and juvenile law. Amends as follows the factors a court must consider in determining child custody: (1) Provides that more consideration must be given to the wishes of the child if the child expresses fear of a parent, or of a family or household member of a parent, based on past conduct of the parent or family or household member that is contrary to the child's best interests. (2) Provides that the court shall consider the degree to which the custody Child custody and parenting time. Adds stalking to the definition of "domestic or family violence" for purposes of family and juvenile law. Amends as follows the factors a court must consider in determining child custody: (1) Provides that more consideration must be given to the wishes of the child if the child expresses fear of a parent, or of a family or household member of a parent, based on past conduct of the parent or family or household member that is contrary to the child's best interests. (2) Provides that the court shall consider the degree to which the custody determination will allow continuity of the child's relationship with the child's parent or parents, the child's siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests. (3) Provides that the court shall consider the degree to which the custody determination will ensure the mental and physical health and safety of the child. (4) Provides that if the court finds evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence committed by either parent, or by a family or household member of either parent, the court shall consider the degree to which the custody determination will safeguard the child, or a parent of the child, from the domestic or family violence. (5) Provides that the court shall consider whether either parent, or a family or household member of either parent, is the subject of a protective order with respect to which: (A) the child or the other parent is a protected party; and (B) the issuing court found that the subject of the protective order committed domestic or family violence against the protected party. (6) Provides that the court shall not weigh a parent's housing instability against the parent for purposes of determining custody if the court finds that the parent's housing instability: (A) is the result of domestic or family violence committed against the parent; and (B) has persisted for not more than six months since the most recent incidence of domestic or family violence. Provides that if the court in a child custody action finds evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence committed by either parent, or by a family or household member of either parent, or finds that the child or a parent of the child is at risk of domestic or family violence by a parent or by a family or household member of a parent, the court shall: (1) include in the court's custody order any condition or restriction the court considers reasonably necessary to safeguard the child, or a parent of the child, from the domestic or family violence; and (2) annually review the custody order to determine whether the condition or restriction continues to be in the child's best interests. Provides for the imposition of conditions, restrictions, or supervision requirements in a parenting time order if the court finds that a noncustodial parent, or a family or household member of the noncustodial parent, has been convicted of a crime involving domestic or family violence or has demonstrated a pattern of child abuse or neglect or a pattern of domestic or family violence, and requires the court to annually review the parenting time order to determine whether continuation of the condition, restriction, or supervision requirement continues to be in the child's best interests. Provides that for purposes of making a determination regarding parenting time, a court may consider an unsubstantiated or substantiated report of child abuse or neglect as evidence of a pattern of child abuse or neglect only on the basis of the court's de novo review of the report. Provides that a court shall not award attorney's fees, court costs, or other litigation expenses to the prevailing party in a parenting time action on the basis of the action having been brought frivolously or vexatiously if the court finds that the party that brought the action: (1) brought the action in good faith; and (2) reasonably believed the action was necessary to protect the child. Requires a court that appoints a guardian ad litem in a child custody or parenting time action to, if practicable, appoint a guardian ad litem who has received training concerning child abuse, domestic abuse, and the effect of child abuse and domestic abuse on a child. Allows the office of judicial administration to establish a continuing education program for judges and court personnel regarding child abuse and neglect. ... View more