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Alabama child custody laws shelved

Some fathers in Alabama who claim they do not receive enough time with their children as a result of their child custody agreement have expressed their dismay a bill that would give them more custody has been shelved until the next legislative session, according to the Anniston Star.

Luke Smallwood, a Jacksonville resident, told the newspaper he believes lopsided child custody laws in the state are partially to blame for his 2-year-old son’s disappearance. Smallwood, who is supposed to see his son every other weekend as part of his custody agreement with his ex-wife, said earlier this month his wife didn’t show up when it was his weekend.

“Unless the mother is a crackhead or has some sort of drug addiction, the court isn’t going to give fathers any rights,” Smallwood told the paper.

To help fathers win more custody rights, the state Senate introduced the Alabama Children’s Family Act, which would have required judges to order equal, joint custody of children in all divorce settlements that parents cannot work out themselves. However, the news provider said opponents believe the measure would provide little stability to children who were forced to travel back and forth between two homes.

Other states have also been reconsidering their child custody laws. Tennessee recently passed a bill that requires judges to consider how they can maximize a child’s involvement with both parents when making custody decision, which was signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam.

Haslam signs Tennessee child custody bill

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a bill that will require judges to consider how to maximize both parents involvement in their child’s life when making custody decisions, reported The Associated Press.

While other factors will be considered as well, the media outlet said the requirement may lead some judges to increase visitation time and designate equal 50-50 custody more often. Supporters of the legislation say judges should be presented with the tools needed to do what is in the best interest of a child, according to the AP.

The law will only apply to new custody cases. The source said parents under older court orders will have to demonstrate a considerable change in circumstances to alter their visitation and custody schedules.

The legislation passed 92-0 in the state House of Representatives and 19-9 in the Senate. The measure was sponsored by Sen. Andy Berke of Chattanooga.

The approval comes amidst a series of family law proposals in Tennessee. The state Supreme Court is set to decide a case that could determine how alimony is awarded between a divorced couple, in addition to another case pertaining to paternity fraud.