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First Substitute H.B. 285

This document includes House Committee Amendments incorporated into the bill on Tue, Feb 25, 2003 at 2:10 PM by kholt. -->

Representative Neal B. Hendrickson proposes the following substitute bill:





Sponsor: Neal B. Hendrickson

             6      This act modifies provisions relating to divorce and child custody proceedings. It
             7      provides for sanctions and remedies for a party against whom a false allegation of child
             8      abuse or sexual abuse is made.
             9      This act affects sections of Utah Code Annotated 1953 as follows:
             10      AMENDS:
             11          30-3-5.2, as last amended by Chapter 255, Laws of Utah 2001
             12          30-3-34, as last amended by Chapter 255, Laws of Utah 2001
             13          62A-4a-116.3, as enacted by Chapter 283, Laws of Utah 2002
             14          62A-4a-412, as last amended by Chapter 283, Laws of Utah 2002
             15      Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             16          Section 1. Section 30-3-5.2 is amended to read:
             17           30-3-5.2. Allegations of child abuse or child sexual abuse -- Investigation.
             18          (1) When, in any divorce proceeding or upon a request for modification of a divorce
             19      decree, an allegation of child abuse or child sexual abuse is made, implicating either party, the
             20      court, after making an inquiry, may order that an investigation be conducted by the Division of
             21      Child and Family Services within the Department of Human Services in accordance with Title
             22      62A, Chapter 4a.
             23          (2) A final award of custody or parent-time may not be rendered until a report on that
             24      investigation, consistent with Section 62A-4a-412 , is received by the court. That investigation
             25      shall be conducted by the Division of Child and Family Services within 30 days of the court's

             26      notice and request for an investigation. In reviewing this report, the court shall comply with
             27      Section 78-7-9 .
             28          (3) If allegations of child abuse, neglect, or spouse abuse are found to be without merit h BY
             29      or a tactic employed by one party to circumvent the other party's custody or parent-time rights
             30      during or after divorce, the court h [ may ] SHALL h grant to the h [ nonalleging ] PREVAILING h party              30a      h [ : ] COURT COSTS AND ATTORNEYS FEES INCURRED IN DEFENDING THE ALLEGATIONS. h
             31           h [ (a) sole physical and legal custody of the child; and
             32          (b) the appropriate change in child support based upon the change in custody.
] h

             33          (4) The offending party may be prosecuted under Section 76-8-506 .
             33c      PROVISIONS OF THE EXISTING ORDER. h
             34          Section 2. Section 30-3-34 is amended to read:
             35           30-3-34. Best interests -- Rebuttable presumption.
             36          (1) If the parties are unable to agree on a parent-time schedule, the court may establish
             37      a parent-time schedule consistent with the best interests of the child.
             38          (2) The advisory guidelines as provided in Section 30-3-33 and the parent-time
             39      schedule as provided in Sections 30-3-35 and 30-3-35.5 [shall] h [ may not be presumed to be in
             40      the best interests of the child, but
] h
shall be considered an absolute minimum. [The] A
             41      parent-time schedule h [ that is equal or nearly as equal ] AGREED TO BY THE PARTIES h shall be
             41a      considered the preferred h [ minimum ] h
             42      parent-time to which the noncustodial parent and the child shall be entitled h [ unless a parent can ] . h
             43      h [ establish otherwise by a preponderance of the evidence that more or less parent-time should be
             44      awarded

             44a      SCHEDULE h based upon h [ any ] CONSIDERATION h of the following criteria:
             45          (a) parent-time would endanger the child's physical health or significantly impair the
             46      child's emotional development;
             47          (b) the distance between the residency of the child and the noncustodial parent;
             48          (c) a substantiated or [unfounded] proven allegation of child abuse has been [made]
             49      determined;

             50          (d) the lack of demonstrated parenting skills without safeguards to ensure the child's
             51      well-being during parent-time;
             52          (e) the financial inability of the noncustodial parent to provide adequate food and

             53      shelter for the child during periods of parent-time;
             54          (f) the preference of the child if the court determines the child to be of sufficient
             55      maturity;
             56          (g) the incarceration of the noncustodial parent in a county jail, secure youth

             57      corrections facility, or an adult corrections facility;
             58          (h) shared interests between the child and the noncustodial parent;
             59          (i) the involvement of the noncustodial parent in the school, community, religious, or
             60      other related activities of the child;
             61          (j) the availability of the noncustodial parent to care for the child when the custodial
             62      parent is unavailable to do so because of work or other circumstances;
             63          (k) a substantial and chronic pattern of missing, canceling, or denying regularly
             64      scheduled parent-time;
             65          (l) the minimal duration of and lack of significant bonding in the parents' relationship
             66      prior to the conception of the child;
             67          (m) the parent-time schedule of siblings;
             68          (n) the lack of reasonable alternatives to the needs of a nursing child; and
             69          (o) any other criteria the court determines relevant to the best interests of the child.
             70          (3) The court shall enter the reasons underlying its order for parent-time that:
             71          (a) incorporates a parent-time schedule provided in Section 30-3-35 or 30-3-35.5 ; or
             72          (b) provides more or less parent-time than a parent-time schedule provided in Section
             73      30-3-35 or 30-3-35.5 .
             74          (4) Once the parent-time schedule has been established, the parties may not alter the
             75      schedule except by mutual consent of the parties or a court order.
             76          Section 3. Section 62A-4a-116.3 is amended to read:
             77           62A-4a-116.3. Reports of child abuse.
             78          (1) The division shall send a certified letter to any person who submits a report of child
             79      abuse or neglect that is placed into or included in any part of the Management Information
             80      System, if the division determines, at the conclusion of its investigation, that:
             81          (a) the report is false;
             82          (b) it is more likely than not that the person knew the report was false at the time that
             83      person submitted the report; and
             84          (c) the reporting person's address is known or reasonably available.
             85          (2) The letter shall inform the reporting person of:
             86          (a) the division's determination made under Subsection (1);
             87          (b) the penalty for submitting false information under this section, Section 76-8-506 ,

             88      and other applicable laws; and
             89          (c) the obligation of the division to inform law enforcement and the person alleged to
             90      have committed abuse or neglect:
             91          (i) in the present instance if law enforcement considers an immediate referral of the
             92      reporting person to law enforcement to be justified by the facts; or
             93          (ii) if the reporting person submits a subsequent false report involving the same alleged
             94      perpetrator or victim.
             95          (3) The division [may] shall inform law enforcement and the alleged perpetrator of a
             96      report for which a letter is required to be sent under Subsection (1), if an immediate referral is
             97      justified by the facts.
             98          (4) The division shall inform law enforcement and the alleged perpetrator of a report
             99      for which a letter is required to be sent under Subsection (1) if a second letter is sent to the
             100      reporting person involving the same alleged perpetrator or victim.
             101          (5) The division shall determine, in consultation with law enforcement:
             102          (a) what information should be given to an alleged perpetrator relating to a false report;
             103      and
             104          (b) whether good cause exists, as defined by the division by rule, for not informing an
             105      alleged perpetrator about a false report.
             106          [(6) Nothing in this section may be construed as requiring the division to conduct an
             107      investigation beyond what is described in Subsection (1), to determine whether or not a report
             108      is false.]
             109          Section 4. Section 62A-4a-412 is amended to read:
             110           62A-4a-412. Reports and information confidential.
             111          (1) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, reports made pursuant to this part, as
             112      well as any other information in the possession of the division obtained as the result of a report
             113      are private, protected, or controlled records under Title 63, Chapter 2, Government Records
             114      Access and Management Act, and may only be made available to:
             115          (a) a police or law enforcement agency investigating a report of known or suspected
             116      child abuse or neglect;
             117          (b) a physician who reasonably believes that a child may be the subject of abuse or
             118      neglect;

             119          (c) an agency that has responsibility or authority to care for, treat, or supervise a child
             120      who is the subject of a report;
             121          (d) a contract provider that has a written contract with the division to render services to
             122      a child who is the subject of a report;
             123          (e) any subject of the report, the natural parents of the minor, and the guardian ad
             124      litem;
             125          (f) a court, upon a finding that access to the records may be necessary for the
             126      determination of an issue before it[, provided that in a divorce, custody, or related proceeding
             127      between private parties, the record alone is:];
             128          [(i) limited to objective or undisputed facts that were verified at the time of the
             129      investigation; and]
             130          [(ii) devoid of conclusions drawn by the division or any of its workers on the ultimate
             131      issue of whether or not a person's acts or omissions constituted any level of abuse or neglect of
             132      another person;]
             133          (g) an office of the public prosecutor or its deputies in performing an official duty;
             134          (h) a person authorized by a Children's Justice Center, for the purposes described in
             135      Section 67-5b-102 ;
             136          (i) a person engaged in bona fide research, when approved by the director of the
             137      division, if the information does not include names and addresses;
             138          (j) the State Office of Education, acting on behalf of itself or on behalf of a school
             139      district, for the purpose of evaluating whether an individual should be permitted to obtain or
             140      retain a license as an educator or serve as an employee or volunteer in a school, limited to
             141      information with substantiated findings involving an alleged sexual offense, an alleged felony
             142      or class A misdemeanor drug offense, or any alleged offense against the person under Title 76,
             143      Chapter 5, Offenses Against the Person, and with the understanding that the office must
             144      provide the subject of a report received under Subsection (1)(k) with an opportunity to respond
             145      to the report before making a decision concerning licensure or employment; and
             146          (k) any person identified in the report as a perpetrator or possible perpetrator of child
             147      abuse or neglect, after being advised of the screening prohibition in Subsection (2).
             148          (2) (a) No person, unless listed in Subsection (1), may request another person to obtain
             149      or release a report or any other information in the possession of the division obtained as a result

             150      of the report that is available under Subsection (1)(k) to screen for potential perpetrators of
             151      child abuse or neglect.
             152          (b) A person who requests information knowing that it is a violation of Subsection
             153      (2)(a) to do so is subject to the criminal penalty in Subsection (4).
             154          (3) Except as provided in Section 62A-4a-116.3 , the division and law enforcement
             155      officials shall ensure the anonymity of the person or persons making the initial report and any
             156      others involved in its subsequent investigation.
             157          (4) Any person who wilfully permits, or aides and abets the release of data or
             158      information obtained as a result of this part, in the possession of the division or contained on
             159      any part of the Management Information System, in violation of this part or Sections
             160      62A-4a-116 through 62A-4a-116.3 , is guilty of a class C misdemeanor.
             161          (5) The physician-patient privilege is not a ground for excluding evidence regarding a
             162      child's injuries or the cause of those injuries, in any proceeding resulting from a report made in
             163      good faith pursuant to this part.

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