February 28, 2020 by Clayton Craddock, Chair, National Parents Organization of New York
Why must kids miss out on certain family relationships when parents separate? It’s cruel for children, who love both parents, to suddenly lose access to everything they once knew when their parents no longer want to live together. Does a child’s love and need for both parents suddenly end when parents decide to separate? A couple may no longer want to be together, but a child wants to remain close to their parents. Most children are willing to do what is necessary to be in a relationship with their caregivers as long as it means that they continue to see them as much as possible after separation.
Barring exceptional circumstances, a child’s right to both loving, fit parents should not be allowed to be used as leverage against the other while personal differences are ironed out in a settlement or in family court.
Our culture is due for a drastic paradigm shift. It’s time to stop seeing one parent as the default and the other as just a visitor. These assumptions are often sexist and outdated. If the parents can no longer live together, the next best thing is for the child to have equal time with each parent.
Our current domestic relations law here in New York State makes no effort to require, or even encourage, that healthy, fit, loving parents spend equal time with their child after a separation. Family courts usually pick one parent to “win custody.” However, in the long run, the children are the biggest losers. When one side of their family suddenly is cut off, children have a strained relationship with not only the non-custodial parent, but the extended family as well. For example, they may rarely see their aunts, uncles, cousins and/or grandparents who they used to see frequently. Extended family relationships are often a vital support system.
Child custody cases in New York State today, can last for weeks, months or years. During this time, the child, under current custom, is oftentimes denied the best of both parents while a judgement is determined. By setting a rebuttable presumption of shared parenting for temporary orders, with room for exceptions if one parent is demonstrably unfit, it will shift the starting point to what’s best for children. It will also free a judges’ time to review and consider more challenging matters.
Read the rest at the Altamont Enterprise