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Being cared for and loved by two parents is the optimum situation for any child. In fact, it should be every child's right. Unfortunately, many states in the U.S. fall short of protecting the rights of American children when parents divorce.

Surprisingly, not one state in the union was able to pass with flying colors, Massachusetts earning a mediocre C-plus from The National Parents Organization when it considered the status of how and when marital children of divorce are allocated time spent with both parents. New York, received an F, with no statutes in place for encouraging shared parenting, relying instead on the less powerful legal precedent of Braiman vs. Braiman.

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The every-other-weekend dad, born from two generations of soaring divorce rates, once was a conventional part of American culture. In recent years, more couples have been agreeing to parent after divorce as they did in marriage: collaboratively.

Now lawmakers are accelerating this trend toward co-parenting, with legislatures in more than 20 states considering bills this year that would encourage shared parenting or make it a legal presumption — even when parents disagree.

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The every-other-weekend dad, born from two generations of soaring divorce rates, once was a conventional part of American culture. In recent years, more couples have been agreeing to parent after divorce as they did in marriage: collaboratively.

Now lawmakers are accelerating this trend toward co-parenting, with legislatures in more than 20 states considering bills this year that would encourage shared parenting or make it a legal presumption — even when parents disagree.

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The every-other-weekend dad, born from two generations of soaring divorce rates,was once a conventional part of American culture. In recent years, more couples have been agreeing to parent after divorce as they did in marriage: collaboratively.

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National Parents Organization thanks The Washington Post for shining a light on efforts to move shared parenting from the exception to the norm following divorce and separation, and encourages lawmakers throughout the nation to support the trend.

The Post’s Dec. 12 front page article, headlined “More than 20 states in 2017 considered laws to promote shared custody of children after divorce,” revealed about half our nation’s state legislatures this year have considered bills supportive of shared parenting, rather than the sole custody status quo. The Post included a map showing the 25 states that have considered proposals. A handful of states already have laws supportive of shared parenting.

“Many of the legislative gains recently have been propelled by the National Parents Organization, a group with roots in the fathers’ rights movement but now a broadened focus on children’s rights and parental equality,” the article said.

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The legal push for custody arrangements is in large part a result of years of lobbying by fathers' rights advocates who feel alienated from their children and burdened by child-support obligations. These groups, including the National Parents Organization, are gaining new traction with support from across the political spectrum, as more lawmakers respond to this appeal for gender equality and, among some conservatives, the frustration of a newly emboldened constituency of men who say they are being shortchanged.

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The every-other-weekend dad, born from two generations of soaring divorce rates,was once a conventional part of American culture. In recent years, more couples have been agreeing to parent after divorce as they did in marriage: collaboratively.

Now lawmakers are accelerating this trend toward co-parenting, with legislatures in more than 20 states considering bills this year that would encourage shared parenting or make it a legal presumption – even when parents disagree.

Kentucky this year passed a law to make joint physical custody and equal parenting time standard for temporary orders while a divorce is being finalized. Florida’s legislature overwhelmingly approved a bill last year to presume equal time for child custody plans, but it was vetoed by the governor. And in Michigan, lawmakers are considering a bill that would make equal parenting time the starting point for custody decisions.

The legal push for custody arrangements is in large part a result of years of lobbying by fathers’ rights advocates who feel alienated from their children and burdened by child-support obligations. These groups, including the National Parents Organization, are gaining new traction with support from across the political spectrum, as more lawmakers respond to this appeal for gender equality and, among some conservatives, the frustration of a newly emboldened constituency of men who say they are being shortchanged.

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The every-other-weekend dad, born from two generations of soaring divorce rates, was once a conventional part of American culture. In recent years, more couples have been agreeing to parent after divorce as they did in marriage: collaboratively.

Now lawmakers are accelerating this trend toward co-parenting, with legislatures in more than 20 states this year considering bills that would encourage shared parenting or make it a legal presumption — even when parents disagree.

Many of the legislative gains recently have been propelled by the National Parents Organization, a group with roots in the fathers’ rights movement but now a broadened focus on children’s rights and parental equality. 

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The latest information on North Dakota family courts comes from the organization Leading Women for Shared Parenting (LW4SP).

It teaches two important lessons. First, whether children maintain meaningful relationships with both parents, post-divorce is mostly a question of which judge decides the case.

Second, North Dakotans need to take with a huge grain of salt what family lawyers and the State Bar Association of North Dakota (SBAND) say about child custody in the state.

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Each year, state family courts create over an estimated 10,000 single-parent children because of the courts’ decisions to strip custody from divorcing parents. The most common parenting plan for non-custodial parents calls for every other weekend visitation, meaning tens of thousands of Michigan children will never experience one of their two parents dropping them off at school or packing them a lunch. Those duties are assigned entirely to the other parent.

Fortunately, we have a chance to preserve children’s relationships with both parents and reform our family court system. HB 4691 changes current law by creating a starting point of joint custody and substantially equal parenting time in divorce situations.

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