Wednesday, November 20, 2013

2014 Indiana Child Custody Bills to be considered

20 November 2013

Yesterday was Organization Day at the Indiana State House. Members of the General Assembly convened to set agendas and, as the name implies, organize themselves for the upcoming legislative session set to begin on 06 January and end on 14 March of 2014. Members have until that first week to get bills submitted. Getting an idea submitted as a bill was as easy as asking.

The four pieces of legislation that I am primarily seeking are;
~ Virtual Visitation - Provides for courts to order various electronic means to facilitate the parent-child bond in addition to in-person parenting time. Provides penalties for interference with the court's order.
~ Joint Custody Presumption - Parents in dissolution actions should be presumed to have been equal contributors to the wellness of their children. Requires a judge to issue findings as to why joint custody is not in the best interest of the child.
~ Domestic Violence Protection Orders - All parties to a DVPO should receive notice of and opportunities to receive related services. Mandates that an issuing court list county level support services on the order.
~ Civil Union Adoptions - This would amend the adoption laws to allow an unmarried household partner to the biological parent of a child to adopt that child.

Getting an idea introduced as a bill is a rather simple procedure. This is just the first step in the legislative process. For today it was arranging to meet with legislators and presenting my child custody proposals. The first meeting resulted in a senator saying he will introduce the bill. The day closed with a senator wanting to engage in further discussions. I was quite humbled by his statement that the Indiana General Assembly is fortunate to have me presenting such relevant child well-being issues.

I am not going to present specific details at this point but, thus far, one bill is going to be introduced. I have legislators in each house looking at another. I have meetings scheduled with legislators in each house for another. I need to get meetings scheduled for a fourth.

I want for you to understand the ease and importance of meeting with legislators. When I am there I am representing thousands of Hoosier parents and children. It is partially a product of mathematics. The total population divided by the number of people who show up to speak about the issue. Showing up at the state house is key. Legislators repeatedly tell me that appearing in-person carries the greatest weight followed by mailing a letter then making a phone call. Personalized e-mails are appreciated more so than form letter e-mails. Petitions carry little weight while on-line versions carry almost no weight. This is why some unscrupulous advocates promote on-line petitions opposed to their agenda – they carry almost no weight and prompt signers into complacency – having felt as though they have already contributed to the effort and then doing no more.

As the session approaches start forming your talking points and collecting your evidence in support of these legislative proposals. I will keep you updated on the progress.

If you would like to assist in advancing child well-being legislation or have ideas you want presented then please visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me. There is no charge for initial attorney consultations.

If you would like to follow my activities more closely then send a friend request to my Political FaceBook page.

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More information about my child custody and well-being policy efforts may be found on my LinkedIn page.

©2008, 2013 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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