Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/07/1993 01:00 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
  HB 122:  CHILD CUSTODY PROCEDURES                                            
                                                                               
  Number 028                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHRIS CHRISTENSEN, STAFF COUNSEL, ALASKA COURT SYSTEM,                       
  stated that the House Judiciary Committee had introduced                     
  HB 122, at the request of the Supreme Court.  He said that                   
  the bill was a very simple, non-controversial piece of                       
  legislation.  He commented that in 1988, the legislature had                 
  directed the court system to investigate potential benefits                  
  of mediation.  A task force was formed, he added, and issued                 
  a report in 1990.  The report recommended a change, which                    
  was contained in HB 122, he said.                                            
                                                                               
  MR. CHRISTENSEN noted that present statutes required that                    
  the court, when determining whether or not to grant shared                   
  custody of a child, consider among other things, the                         
  findings and recommendations of a neutral mediator.  House                   
  Bill 122, he stated, would eliminate that requirement.  He                   
  said that the task force had concluded that this particular                  
  requirement endangered the mediation process and ran counter                 
  to the view that mediation proceedings should be kept                        
  confidential.                                                                
                                                                               
  MR. CHRISTENSEN commented that the present accepted view of                  
  mediation did not envision a mediator making recommendations                 
  about the resolution of a dispute, should mediation                          
  terminate without an agreement.  The mediator's role, he                     
  added, was to guide parties to a mutual decision, not to                     
  impose a decision on them, even in the form of a                             
  recommendation.                                                              
                                                                               
  MR. CHRISTENSEN expressed his opinion that when the statute                  
  in question was first drafted, the terms "arbitration" and                   
  "mediation" had been confused.  An arbitrator, he said, was                  
  supposed to listen to both sides of a dispute, and then make                 
  a recommendation to the parties or a judge.  A mediator,                     
  however, was supposed to help two parties come to a mutual                   
  agreement.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Number 090                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE JIM NORDLUND commented that a requirement                     
  that the court merely consider the findings of a mediator                    
  did not seem like a huge imposition.                                         
                                                                               
  Number 098                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. CHRISTENSEN replied that the problem was that the                        
  statute required the court to consider a list of things, one                 
  of which it was not appropriate to consider.  An ethical                     
  mediator, he noted, would not make a recommendation.  He                     
  said that current law confused both mediators and judges.                    
                                                                               
  Number 115                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN BRIAN PORTER commented that current law set up an                   
  impossible task.                                                             
                                                                               
  Number 122                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE JEANNETTE JAMES made a MOTION to MOVE HB 122                  
  out of committee, with individual recommendations and a zero                 
  fiscal note.  There being no objection, IT WAS SO ORDERED.                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN PORTER announced that the committee would take up                   
  HB 119 next.                                                                 
                                                                               

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