February 9, 2012
To: Members of the Judiciary Committee
From: Sarah Forrest, Policy Coordinator – Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice
Re: Opposition to LB 844 – Increasing Opportunity for Conflict in Parenting Plans
Children grow best in stable, loving families where they have access to the social, emotional, and physical support that allow for healthy development. Family stability is not always possible, however. Every year in Nebraska, about 6,000 children are impacted by the divorce of their parents. In 2010, 6,251 children were affected by divorce. Divorce proceedings and court decisions directly impact the conflict, confusion, and instability that children experience during a vulnerable time in their life.
Voices for Children in Nebraska was involved in bringing a group of court stakeholders together in establishing the original framework of the Nebraska Parenting Act in 1993. The idea was to “soften the blow of divorce” and ensure that the best interest of children was central in divorce proceedings. Voices for Children participated in subsequent improvements and changes in 2007.
Voices for Children opposes LB 844 because it increases the opportunity for drawing out conflict in the lives of children and families and removes the best interest of the child from what should be its central position in a number of ways:
- A required annual accounting of how child support payment is spent at the request of the payer.
- Insertion of financial and child support provisions into the Parenting Plan, taking the focus away from the child.
- A requirement that the Supreme Court establish guidelines for court-created Parenting Plans that assume parenting time to be shared equally by all parties. Courts create Parenting Plans only in the most contentious cases, and this assumption could cause further conflict and have negative impacts on cases that involve domestic violence.
The well-being and best interest of children must be the primary consideration when setting policy that relates to divorce proceedings. Children thrive in stable environments, not when they put in the middle of conflict between their parents. We urge you to indefinitely postpone LB 844. Thank you.
 Kids Count in Nebraska 2011 Report. Voices for Children in Nebraska.