FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 20, 2017
Contact: Christina Guenthner, (517) 373-0625
House committee advances Runestad’s shared parenting legislation
State Rep. Jim Runestad, of White Lake, today praised his colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee for advancing legislation establishing shared custody with equal parenting time as the starting point during child custody deliberations.
“The current system profits by pitting divorcing parents against each other in an ugly competition over who is the better parent,” said Runestad, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee. “A child needs and wants both parents and nothing is more important to people than the right to take care of their child. It’s time for the law to recognize that it is in the best interest of children to be raised by two loving parents whenever possible.”
Weeks of testimony and presentations from a wide variety of professionals revealed an alarming lack of consistency in custody declarations across counties, Runestad said. For example, joint custody determinations ranged from as high of 70 percent in some counties and as low as 14 percent in others.
“We found that a parent’s likelihood of enjoying joint custody had little relation to their parenting skills, but rather it was a function of where the parent lived and which judge was assigned,” Runestad said.
House Bill 4691 establishes new custody rules that act in the best interests of children by creating a presumption of the child’s right to substantially equal time and a healthy relationship with both parents.
“Parents can come to agreements about what is best for the child when there is a presumption that parenting time should be shared between two loving parents,” Runestad said.
Runestad also noted the bill includes provisions to protect children from unfit parents and domestic violence situations.
“Parties who oppose shared custody will have an opportunity to prove that such an arrangement is harmful to the children and that would result in the presumption being undone,” Runestad said. “Proving harm is not an onerous requirement, considering we are talking about parents being stripped of their most basic parental rights.”
H.B. 4691 now moves to the full House for consideration.