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According to Ned Holstein of the National Parents Organization shared parenting should be implemented as a rebuttable presumption in a manner that creates incentives for parents to cooperate in raising a child.

He believes that, “Mental health professionals can play a very positive and satisfying role in this transition. They should already be 
counseling their patients in troubled relationships that their children will more likely do better with shared parenting, as hard as that may be for the parent to accept given the anger and hurt during separation and divorce. Professional efforts currently devoted to identifying a sole custodial parent on the basis of small differences in parental abilities may instead be used to help parents navigate cooperative parenting or parallel parenting. It will be far more satisfying to help families make the adjustments that result in more harmonious post-nuclear-family relationships, and to see happy children as a result, than to assist the court in picking winners and losers. Any shared parenting legislation should provide for the financing of post-court family counseling services, which in one way or another can replace the funds currently used for custody evaluations.”

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Linda Wright, of the National Parent's Organization in Michigan, earlier this month said she saw the ill effects of a single parent family when her husband died in 1998.

"While we can't protect our children from the loss of a parent resulting from death, we certainly have the ability and responsibility to do everything possible to prevent the loss of a parent that occurs through divorce," she said. "The children are innocenvictims here."

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Charitable bodies such as the National Parents Organization have criticized family law, noting that it is not configured to ensure that boys (and girls) spend the necessary time with their fathers. These advocates have lobbied for serious family law reform, mainly for a model known as ‘shared parenting’, which would mean children spend 50/50 time with each parent.  However, shared parenting remains uncommon in North America, even though research shows that this is beneficial for the children concerned.

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I’d like to recognize the millions of fathers who are fighting for shared parenting – the right to continue to be active and loving dads after separating or divorce. It is not just about your “rights,” although there is no reason a good father should not have the same rights as a good mother. It is also about what is best for your children, since over 50 research studies from numerous countries show that children with shared parenting on average have much better lives than the millions of children in the sole custody of one parent.

U.S. Census data shows our family courts still favor sole custody to mom more than 80 percent of the time, despite the similarity of gender roles in modern couples. So the battle for legal equality in family court feels like a frustrating and uphill battle. But dads, don’t give up. For the sake of one-third of our nation’s children (that’s how many kids are now affected by child custody issues), I encourage you to keep up this good fight – and here are five of the many reasons why.

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"Michigan's Big Show" interviews National Parents Organization's Linda Wright on Michigan's Shared Parenting Bill

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A watershed moment in children’s welfare occurred in Boston two weeks ago. Remarkably, that moment had much to do with an important moment in Nebraska just two weeks earlier. Both moments are important for Fathers’ Day.

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If only the family courts could be as grateful as therapists and doctors are for dads who share parenting duties, said Dr. Ned Holstein, founder of the National Parents Organization (NPO). Holstein is referring to what some have called ''father bias,'' or the age-old tendency of judges to grant mothers sole custody of children after divorce.

Holstein has spent the last 20 years advocating for shared parenting. But the courts continue to push back. ''In two decades, custody statistics have barely budged. More often, moms get sole custody,'' Holstein told us in a recent interview. His NPO continues to fight so children of divorce can have the love and nurturing of both parents.

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There is more that can be done about the opioid crisis in Massachusetts that is effective, non-punitive and free to the taxpayer. Governor Charlie Baker’s commendable leadership on this surging problem has resulted in the passage of legislation strengthening prescribing laws and increasing education. This is important. But a powerful opportunity has so far been overlooked.

A clue is to be found in federal statistics: 75 percent of children in chemical abuse centers have been raised by single parents. This is no criticism of single parents who are trying hard, but strongly suggests that parenting arrangements do matter. Abundant research confirms this hunch. While out-of-wedlock births and separation and divorce of parents are likely to continue at high rates, the research shows that shared parenting when parents are apart is associated with lower drug abuse rates, as well as many other improvements for children.

Shared parenting is an arrangement in which the children of parents living apart spend at least 35% of the time with each parent, and as close to equal time as possible; it is not appropriate unless both parents are fit and there has been no significant domestic violence.

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There is more that can be done about the opioid crisis in Massachusetts that is effective, non-punitive and free to the taxpayer. Governor Charlie Baker’s commendable leadership on this surging problem has resulted in the passage of legislation strengthening prescribing laws and increasing education. This is important. But a powerful opportunity has so far been overlooked.

A clue is to be found in federal statistics: 75 percent of children in chemical abuse centers have been raised by single parents. This is no criticism of single parents who are trying hard, but strongly suggests that parenting arrangements do matter. Abundant research confirms this hunch. While out-of-wedlock births and separation and divorce of parents are likely to continue at high rates, the research shows that shared parenting when parents are apart is associated with lower drug abuse rates, as well as many other improvements for children.

Shared parenting is an arrangement in which the children of parents living apart spend at least 35% of the time with each parent, and as close to equal time as possible; it is not appropriate unless both parents are fit and there has been no significant domestic violence.

This solution requires only a small change in the custody laws. In fact, the Massachusetts House passed such a law last year, but the Senate took no action before adjourning for the year. The reformed custody bill was written by a blue-ribbon Working Group previously appointed by Governor Deval Patrick on which I was honored to serve. Prospects for the bill this year are uncertain. Opposition from the politically powerful bar associations, whose members profit from unnecessary custody battles, remains a major factor.

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I sat down with Dr. Ned Holstein, the founder and chairman of the board of the National Parents Organization at the International Conference on Shared Parenting in Boston. The National Parents Organization has a mission to preserve the bond between parents and children. To that end, at this conference, the world’s most renowned child development experts in the area of post-divorce parenting have gathered to share their research results. How do children fare with and without shared parenting post-divorce?

“There are two big disconnects going on,” Dr. Holstein said. “One is that the general public overwhelmingly believes that shared parenting should be the usual outcome if both parents are fit and there’s been no domestic violence. In fact, this very question went before 700,000 voters in Massachusetts and 86% voted in favor of shared parenting. However, shared parenting is happening in less than 10% of the cases.

“To define the term: shared parenting means that each parent receives at least 35% of the parenting time. This is flexible. There’s no straight-jacket here, but at least there’s a definition.”

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