Bill Would Make Parent Visitation Plans Fair for Both Sides

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Divorce is never easy and a ruthless custody battle can often emotionally damage the children involved. But one senator hopes to change that by providing a level playing field.

Senator Russ Karpisek says he created this bill for the kids. But it's the single parents who showed up supporting it Tuesday.

Jeremy Barnhill knows first hand the ups and downs of a visitation plan. Until a few years ago, he saw his three kids 50 percent of the time. But one day, his case was moved to a different county and some of that time was taken away.

"I watched what it has done to my kids. I get calls from my 8 year old. I miss you, I love you, I want to see you, I want to be there she says," said Barnhill.

That's why he stands behind Senator Karpisek's bill. It would change court-created parenting plans making the presumption that each parent deserves at least 45 percent of visitation time.

"Right now, a lot of the time, it's every other weekend and maybe one day of the week. To me, that's not enough time as a parent," Karpisek said.

The bill does involve a rebuttal giving the judge the authority to make changes.

"If one parent can prove the other isn't a good parent or has their issues, that will be turned into the court as it is now and the judge has the authority to determine how much time the parents get," said Karpisek.

Senator Brad Ashford, who's on the judiciary committee, says he hasn't seen these types of bill be successful.

"The committee has shied away from any of those sorts of bills. We generally have taken the position that the courts are the proper forum to decide," said Ashford.

Senator Ashford says passing the measure isn't out of the question.

"We will take a look at this and see if the 45 percent bill creates any different sort of an attitude by the committee at this point," said Ashford.

A group of supporters met with the judiciary committee Tuesday afternoon. Karpisek says he's not surprised by the efforts because this a very emotional topic.