Amend the bill, as and if amended, by striking all after the enacting words and inserting:
/SECTION 1. Chapter 15, Title 63 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
Section 63-15-210. (A)
As used in this article:
(1) 'Court-approved arbitrator' means a certified mediator or certified arbitrator who the chief administrative family court judge for a particular judicial circuit, certifies to arbitrate a dispute between parents concerning their child. Court-approved arbitrators may charge an hourly rate set by the chief administrative family court judge for a particular county.
(2) 'Joint custody' means both parents have equal rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child, including the child's education, medical and dental care, extracurricular activities, and religious training; however, a judge may designate one parent to have sole authority to make specific, identified decisions while both parents retain equal rights and responsibilities for all other decisions. Joint custody does not mean that a child must spend an equal amount of time with each parent.
(3) 'Sole custody' means a person, including but not limited to, a parent who has permanent custody of a child and, unless otherwise provided for by court order, the rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child, including the child's education, medical and dental care, extracurricular activities, and religious training. A noncustodial parent may have rights to visitation or parenting time as provided for by court order.
Section 63-15-220. (A)
Prior to a temporary hearing at which
custody is an issue, the court shall require each parent to
prepare and submit to the court a parenting plan which reflects
parental preferences, the allocation of parenting time to be
spent with each parent, and major decisions including but not
limited to the child's education, medical and dental care,
extracurricular activities and religious training. The court
shall issue a temporary and final custody order only after
considering this parenting plan; however, the failure by a party
to submit a parenting plan to the court does not preclude the
court from issuing a temporary or final custody order.
(B) At the final hearing, either party may submit an updated or amended parenting plan for the court's consideration.
(C) Court administration shall develop a document on which a parenting plan may be prepared and submitted to the court.
Section 63-15-230. (A)
The court shall make the final custody
determination in the best interest of the child based upon the
(B) The court may award joint custody to both parents or sole custody to either parent.
(C) If custody is contested or if either parent seeks an award of joint custody, the court must consider joint custody and shall issue an order containing findings of fact as to why joint custody was or was not awarded.
Section 63-15-240. (A)
In issuing or modifying an order for custody
affecting the rights and responsibilities of the parents, the
order may include, but is not limited to:
(1) approval of a parenting plan agreed to by the parents;
(2) award of sole custody to one parent with appropriate parenting time for the noncustodial parent;
(3) if joint custody is awarded to both parents, the order must include:
(a) residential arrangements with each parent in accordance with the needs of the child and parents; and
(b) how consultations and communications between the parents will take place, generally and specifically with regard to major decisions concerning the child's health, medical and dental care, education, extracurricular activities, and religious training;
(4) other custody arrangements as the court may determine to be in the best interest of the child.
(B) In issuing or modifying a custody order, the court shall consider the best interest of the child, which may include, but is not limited to:
(1) the temperament and developmental needs of the child;
(2) the capacity and the disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child;
(3) relevant and material information obtained from the child, including the informed preferences of the child;
(4) the wishes of the parents as to custody;
(5) the past and current interaction and relationship of the child with each parent, the child's siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the best interest of the child;
(6) the willingness of each parent to facilitate and encourage the continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, as is appropriate, including compliance with court orders;
(7) the manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents in an effort to involve the child in the parents' dispute;
(8) the ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child;
(9) the child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community environments;
(10) the stability of the child's existing and proposed residences;
(11) the length of time that the child has lived in a stable and satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining the continuity in the environment; however, the court may consider favorably a parent who voluntarily leaves the child's family home pendente lite in order to alleviate stress in the household;
(12) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability of a proposed custodial parent or other party, in and of itself, must not be determinative of custody unless the proposed custodial arrangement is not in the best interest of the child;
(13) the child's cultural background;
(14) whether the child or a sibling of the child has been abused or neglected;
(15) the effect on the child of the actions of an abuser if any domestic violence has occurred between the parents or between a parent and another individual or between the parent and the child;
(16) other factors as the court considers necessary.
Section 63-15-250. (A)
When a final order is issued awarding joint custody and
thereafter the parents are unable to agree on a significant
decision concerning the child that does not require a
modification of the court order, either parent may seek to have
the matter arbitrated by a court-approved arbitrator. The
parties shall equally pay the cost of the arbitration; however,
the arbitration order may require the prevailing party be
reimbursed for all or part of the costs associated with the
(B) The family court retains jurisdiction to modify a joint custody order based on a substantial change of circumstances."
SECTION 2. Section 63-15-220(C) of the 1976 Code, as added by Section 1 of this Act, is effective 60 days after the approval of the Governor. All other sections and subsections of this act take effect upon approval by the Governor and apply to causes of action arising on or after the effective date of this act. /
Renumber sections to conform.
Amend title to conform.