South Carolina Legislature


 

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S 680
Session 112 (1997-1998) 

S 0680 General Bill, By M.T. Rose
 A BILL TO ENACT THE "MANDATORY PARENTING PLAN ACT," AMENDING CHAPTER 3, TITLE
 20, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO DIVORCE, BY ADDING
 SECTION 20-3-165, SO AS TO REQUIRE EACH PARTY IN AN ACTION FOR DIVORCE FROM
 THE BONDS OF MATRIMONY OR FOR SEPARATE SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE OR LEGAL
 SEPARATION, WHERE THE CUSTODY, VISITATION OR SUPPORT OF A MINOR CHILD IS AN
 ISSUE, TO FILE A PARENTING PLAN WITHIN NINETY DAYS OF FILING THE COMPLAINT.

   04/22/97  Senate Introduced and read first time SJ-10
   04/22/97  Senate Referred to Committee on Judiciary SJ-10



A BILL

TO ENACT THE "MANDATORY PARENTING PLAN ACT," AMENDING CHAPTER 3, TITLE 20, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO DIVORCE, BY ADDING SECTION 20-3-165, SO AS TO REQUIRE EACH PARTY IN AN ACTION FOR DIVORCE FROM THE BONDS OF MATRIMONY OR FOR SEPARATE SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE OR LEGAL SEPARATION, WHERE THE CUSTODY, VISITATION OR SUPPORT OF A MINOR CHILD IS AN ISSUE, TO FILE A PARENTING PLAN WITHIN NINETY DAYS OF FILING THE COMPLAINT.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the 'Mandatory Parenting Plan Act.'

SECTION 2. (A) The General Assembly finds and declares that by requiring parties in a divorce proceeding to file a parenting plan the State would be assisting these individuals in developing a restructured family which would meet the needs of all the members of the family. The parenting plan would provide for the minor children's physical care, maintain the minor children's emotional stability, and provide for the minor children's changing needs as he or she develops, in a manner which minimizes the need for future modifications to the parenting plan.

(B) The General Assembly further finds that by setting forth the authority and responsibilities of each party with respect to the minor children, the parties would be encouraged to fulfill their parenting responsibilities through agreements in the parenting plan rather than by relying on judicial intervention. The General Assembly further finds that setting forth the responsibilities of the parents would assure the minor children of frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or divorced. Furthermore, participation and cooperation by both parties in the minor children's activities would minimize the minor children's exposure to harmful parental conflict and would provide both parties with equal access to the minor children.

SECTION 3. Chapter 3, Title 20 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"Section 20-3-165. (A) Each party in an action for divorce from the bonds of matrimony or for separate support and maintenance or legal separation, where the custody, visitation or support of a minor child is an issue, shall file a parenting plan within ninety days of filing the complaint.

(B) The parenting plan shall determine procedures for the day-to-day care of the minor child. The plan shall also determine procedures for transporting the minor child from one parent to the other parent at the start and conclusion of visitation. Consideration shall be given to the minor child's age and developmental needs. The plan shall include a schedule which designates the time the minor child shall spend with each parent on a weekly basis and on special occasions including, but not limited to, specified religious and secular holidays, birthday and vacations. The plan shall specify how major decisions regarding the minor child's education, health care, and religious upbringing will be made. Regardless of the allocation of the decision making in the parenting plan, the parties shall authorize emergency medical procedures in situations affecting the immediate health of the child.

(C) The parenting plan shall address only issues regarding parenting functions. Other issues included, but not limited to, property division and financial issues or child support, shall be specifically excluded from the parenting plan.

(D) Within forty-five days from the date the parenting plan was to be filed, the parties are required to file a mutually agreed upon parenting plan. If a mutually agreed upon parenting plan cannot be achieved by the parties, the parties may be referred to mediation. If a parenting plan cannot be achieved through mediation, the matter shall be referred to the court for disposition.

(E) The court may modify or suspend a parenting plan when an allegation of domestic violence has been proven. The court may also modify or suspend a parenting plan if, after considering the special circumstances surrounding the case, adherence to the plan would not be in the best interest of the child. The court shall issue written findings of fact and an explanation of the reasons for modifying or suspending the plan.

(F) The court shall make available to each party a 'parenting plan kit' which shall include a sample parenting plan."

SECTION 4. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.

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