To the editor:
I am addressing your July 28 editorial entitled, "Don't rehash child support issue."You ask the question, - "the Judicial Council voted to adopt the (child support) guidelines, which become effective Oct. 1. Why, then, are legislators rehashing the same controversial issues? . . . It is unlikely the (legislative Judicial Committee) could improve upon the efforts of the 17-member Child Support Task Force."
As a member of this 17-member task force that studied the issue for more than a year, and one of the three who voted against the recommendations which were adopted by the Judicial Council, I express my regrets that the paper would speak in such uncomplimentary terms as to accuse our Judicial Interim Committee of promoting "their personal agendas," thus keeping the debate going.
As a matter of fact, the Aug. 17 Interim Committee have scheduled their last hearing on this matter, and will present their recommendations to the Judicial Council.
In my presentation to the Judicial Council, I called for continued study, and not to implement (the guidelines) on Oct. 1. Our work has not been completed - visitation rights, gender bias, accountability for support money spent, and other issues.
One state senator, who was a member of the committee, and I both have bills on the child support issue which we are preparing for introduction, either in a special session or in the next general session commencing in January of 1989.
I have met with several groups composed of non-custodial parents, both male and female, with grandparents, and interested friends, who plead for some help in the area of visitation rights granted by the court, but not adhered to by the custodial parent. We must find a way for children involved in divorce to be loved by both parents.
I sponsored and had passed last January a bill that passed the House and the Senate and was signed by the governor, entitled, Joint Legal Custody, which is now statute. It is the law, asking divorcing parents to agree to share in the health, education, and welfare of their children.
Judges, lawyers, and parents are encouraged to submit to this program, rather than to be constantly fighting in court. Not everyone will agree to participate, but those that do, will find children forever grateful.
I fear adopting the guidelines in their present form without the introduction of the additional feature, not yet finalized, will result in less payments for support by the non-custodial parent for his children, and especially if he is denied visitation rights and accountability.
The other side of this question has not been fully explored, and some judges voiced opinions, which were negative votes for implementation Oct. 1.
This is not rehash, and I call upon our important Legislative Committee to listen to what involved parents throughout the state are saying, and call upon the Judicial Council to stay the announced implementation of their schedule.
G. LaMont Richards
State Representative, District 27