Text: HF00296                           Text: HF00298
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House File 297

Partial Bill History

Bill Text

  1  1    Section 1.  INTENT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY.  It is the
  1  2 intent of the general assembly that when the custody or
  1  3 visitation of a child is at issue before the court, the best
  1  4 interest of the child should determine the outcome and the
  1  5 best interest of the child is served through the opportunity
  1  6 of maximum contact with both parents.  It is also the intent
  1  7 of the general assembly that custody or visitation disputes be
  1  8 settled swiftly and include resolution of the issue of child
  1  9 support in an equitable manner.
  1 10    Sec. 2.  Section 598.21, subsection 4, Code 1999, is
  1 11 amended by adding the following new paragraph:
  1 12    NEW PARAGRAPH.  f.  Notwithstanding paragraph "a", if a
  1 13 parent is awarded joint physical care of a child, the court
  1 14 shall deviate from the guidelines in a manner so that the
  1 15 amount of child support provided by each parent reflects the
  1 16 physical custody responsibility awarded the respective parent.
  1 17    Sec. 3.  Section 598.41, subsection 2, paragraphs d and e,
  1 18 Code 1999, are amended by striking the paragraphs and
  1 19 inserting in lieu thereof the following:
  1 20    d.  Except as provided in subparagraph (1), before ruling
  1 21 upon the joint custody petition in these cases, if it appears
  1 22 on the face of the petition or other application for an order
  1 23 or modification of an order for the custody of a child that
  1 24 custody or visitation is contested, or that any issue
  1 25 pertinent to a custody or visitation determination, including
  1 26 visitation rights, is unresolved, the matter may be set for
  1 27 mediation of the contested issue prior to, concurrent with, or
  1 28 subsequent to the setting of the matter for hearing.  The
  1 29 purpose of the mediation proceeding is to reduce acrimony
  1 30 which may exist between the parties and to develop an
  1 31 agreement that is supportive of the child's best interest.
  1 32 The mediator shall use best efforts to effect a settlement of
  1 33 the custody or visitation dispute, but shall have no coercive
  1 34 authority.
  1 35    (1)  If the court determines that a history of domestic
  2  1 abuse exists as specified in subsection 3, paragraph "j", or
  2  2 if the court determines that direct physical harm or
  2  3 significant emotional harm to the child, other children, or a
  2  4 parent is likely to result, the parties shall not be required
  2  5 to participate in or be referred to mediation.
  2  6    (2)  In order to participate in custody mediation, a
  2  7 mediator must be appointed by the court.  A mediator shall be
  2  8 a member of the professional staff of the court, a mental
  2  9 health services agency, a private mediation service, or other
  2 10 person approved by the court having jurisdiction of the
  2 11 matter.  Persons providing mediation services who are not
  2 12 otherwise professional staff of the court are not court
  2 13 employees, but are subject to supervision of the court.  The
  2 14 court shall maintain a listing of approved mediators for this
  2 15 purpose.  The parties shall utilize the services of a mediator
  2 16 approved and listed by the court, unless the parties stipulate
  2 17 to a mediator not approved and listed by the court.
  2 18    (3)  A mediator who provides mediation services under this
  2 19 subsection shall meet all of the following requirements, at a
  2 20 minimum:
  2 21    (a)  Have knowledge of the court system and the procedures
  2 22 used in contested custody matters.
  2 23    (b)  Have knowledge of other resources in the community to
  2 24 which the parties to a contested child custody matter may be
  2 25 referred for assistance.
  2 26    (c)  Have knowledge of child development, clinical issues
  2 27 relating to children, the effects of marriage dissolution on
  2 28 children, and child custody research.
  2 29    (d)  Have previously completed mediation training or have
  2 30 experience in mediation deemed equivalent by the court.
  2 31    (4)  Mediation proceedings shall be conducted in private.
  2 32 All records of a mediation proceeding shall be confidential
  2 33 and shall not be available as evidence in an action for
  2 34 marriage dissolution and related proceedings on any issue in
  2 35 controversy in the dissolution.  All verbal and written
  3  1 information relating to the subject matter of the mediation
  3  2 process and transmitted between the parties and the mediator
  3  3 or other person present during any stage of the mediation
  3  4 process, whether reflected in notes, memoranda, or other work
  3  5 products in case files are confidential communications.
  3  6 Mediators shall not be examined in any judicial or
  3  7 administrative proceeding regarding confidential
  3  8 communications and are not subject to judicial or
  3  9 administrative process requiring the disclosure of
  3 10 confidential communications.
  3 11    (5)  If the parties do not reach an agreement at the
  3 12 conclusion of the mediation proceedings, the mediator may
  3 13 recommend to the court that other actions be taken to assist
  3 14 the parties to resolve the controversy before a hearing on the
  3 15 issues.  The mediator may recommend the use of neutral
  3 16 visitation sites or that mutual restraining orders be issued
  3 17 in appropriate cases, pending determination of the
  3 18 controversy, to protect the well-being of any child involved
  3 19 in the controversy.
  3 20    (6)  An agreement reached by the parties as a result of
  3 21 mediation shall be discussed by the parties with their
  3 22 attorneys, if any, and if approved the agreement may be
  3 23 included in a dissolution decree or other stipulation
  3 24 submitted to the court.  An agreement reached by the parties
  3 25 as a result of mediation shall not be presented to the court
  3 26 and is not enforceable unless the parties and their attorneys,
  3 27 if any, approve the agreement, consent to its presentation to
  3 28 the court, and the court accepts the agreement.
  3 29    (7)  The costs of custody mediation shall be paid in full
  3 30 or in part by the parties and taxed as court costs.
  3 31    (8)  The supreme court may prescribe rules to administer
  3 32 this paragraph "d".  
  3 33                           EXPLANATION
  3 34    This bill relates to child custody, visitation, and
  3 35 support.  The bill provides the intent of the general assembly
  4  1 that the best interest of the child in awarding custody and
  4  2 visitation is served by providing the opportunity for maximum
  4  3 contact with both parents and that disputes regarding
  4  4 visitation and custody should be resolved swiftly and should
  4  5 include resolution of the issue of child support in an
  4  6 equitable manner.  The bill provides that if joint physical
  4  7 custody is awarded, the court shall deviate from the child
  4  8 support guidelines to reflect the physical custody
  4  9 responsibility awarded each parent.  The bill provides that,
  4 10 prior to the awarding of joint custody by the court, the
  4 11 matter may be set for mediation in instances in which there
  4 12 are unresolved matters, including custody and visitation
  4 13 rights.  The bill specifies that mediation is to be provided
  4 14 by a mediator approved by the court and listed by the court
  4 15 for the purposes of use by the parties.  The bill specifies
  4 16 mediator qualifications, that mediation is to be conducted in
  4 17 private, that records of the mediation are not to be available
  4 18 as evidence in a dissolution proceeding, the conditions under
  4 19 which a mediator may make recommendations to the court when
  4 20 the parties are not in agreement at the conclusion of the
  4 21 mediation proceedings, that a mediation agreement must be
  4 22 discussed and approved by the parties and their respective
  4 23 attorneys if it is to be used by the court, that rules may be
  4 24 prescribed by the supreme court to carry out the bill, and
  4 25 that mediation is not to be utilized if domestic abuse exists
  4 26 or if the court determines that direct physical harm or
  4 27 significant emotional harm to the child, other children, or a
  4 28 parent is likely to result.  Costs of mediation are to be
  4 29 charged as court costs and paid by the parties.  
  4 30 LSB 1167YH 78
  4 31 pf/jw/5.1

Text: HF00296                           Text: HF00298
Text: HF00200 - HF00299                 Text: HF Index
Bills and Amendments: General Index     Bill History: General Index

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