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Nebraska Legislative Bill 437 could change parenting time laws

Fathers in Nebraska have once again let lawmakers know that they want to spend more time with their children. The appeal was made by divorced fathers who don't want to be limited to only seeing their children every other weekend. These fathers want the legislators to pass a bill that would force judges in the state to allow noncustodial parents more time with their children.

The sad fact is that no lawmaker has prioritized a bill that would allow this. Without that prioritization, it is unlikely that a full debate on the floor would be scheduled for this year. This is at least the ninth occasion that fathers have pushed for this bill.

Legislative Bill 437 is touted as a product of compromise between lawyers and judges. State Senator Laura Ebke says that the legal system needs to better serve the children who are caught in the midst of the issue. She says that reducing fatherlessness could reduce the number of juveniles in the juvenile justice system. She also noted that over 40 studies have pointed to the fact that when a child of divorce has a meaningful relationship with both parents, they do better in school, suffer less mental illness, and are less likely to abuse drugs.

Those against the bill, such as advocates for abused women, say that how things are right now is how they should remain. They said that the bill's proposed changes could make children and their mothers more vulnerable to abuse. The bill, however, does have provisions that allow a judge to take a history of abuse or assault into account. If those domestic issues are present, the judge could go as far as eliminating visitation.

Doing what is best for a child is what matters in child custody cases. Some people say that trying to do that at a legislative level just isn't possible.

Source: Omaha World-Herald, "Divorced dads plead with lawmakers for more time with their kids," Joe Duggan, March. 13, 2015

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