June 12, 2017
NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION URGES MICHIGAN LAWMAKERS TO MOVE SHARED PARENTING FORWARD
MICHIGAN JOINS 20 STATES CONSIDERING FAMILY COURT REFORM
Michigan lawmakers have the opportunity to improve children’s educational achievements, decrease their use of drugs, and improve their overall health and adjustment without any cost to the taxpayer by passing shared parenting into law. With these benefits to hundreds of thousands of Michigan children in mind, National Parents Organization urges the Judiciary Committee of the Michigan House of Representatives to pass House Bill 4691 when it votes on the bill this Thursday, June 15, at 8:30 a.m.
The legislation embraces parental equality and shared parenting – a flexible arrangement where children spend as close to equal time as possible with each parent after divorce or separation. Specifically, the bill proposes a rebuttable presumption of shared parenting when parents divorce or separate, meaning the conversation begins with the two-parent solution.
“Passage of this bill will work to ensure that children receive the consistent love and care of not one, but both parents after separation or divorce,” said Linda Wright, a Michigan mother who’s taking an active role in working to pass this legislation. “We can’t afford to allow our broken family court system to continue with the sole custody status quo – our children can’t be deprived of either parent any longer.”
The bill had had multiple hearings in the past two months and is sponsored by Rep. Jim Runestad with co-sponsorship from Rep. Tim Kelly, Rep. Scott VanSingel, Rep. Peter Lucido, Rep. Roger Hauck. Rep. Tristen Cole and Rep. Jim Tedder.
While shared parenting remains unusual, a trend toward shared parenting has developed in recent years. It has been the usual arrangement for several years in Sweden and Australia, and research there has shown much better outcomes for children. A handful of states in the U.S. have benefited from laws supportive of this arrangement for several years. Plus, in the last year alone, more than 20 states have considered the reform, and states including Kentucky have passed bills supportive of shared parenting in recent months. At the same time, research continues to show that shared parenting is in the best interest of children when their parents divorce or separate.
“It is wonderful that Michigan has this historic opportunity to move child custody laws in line with gender equality as well as the overwhelming body of research showing that most children desperately want and need shared parenting after divorce or separation,” said Ned Holstein, MD, Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization. “I urge Michigan lawmakers to swiftly move this proposal into law. Instead of setting up parents for a bitter and unnecessary custody battle, the bill will allow families to heal from the pain of divorce and separation from a position of equality and co-parenting.”
HOUSE BILL 4691: COMMENTS FROM LEGISLATIVE HEARINGS
Rep. Runestad said: “It is in the best interest of children to be raised by two-loving parents whenever possible. Divorce between two parents is not a good reason for the system to profit by pitting parents against each other in an ugly competition over who is the better parent. A child needs and wants both parents, and nothing is more important to people than their right to take care of their child. Parents can come to agreements about what is best for the child when there is a presumption that parenting time should be shared between parties. This legislation is for children, and there are provisions in the bill to protect children from an unfit parent and in domestic violence situations.”
Family law attorney David Helms said: “The Shared Custody Act will safeguard children’s rights and access to both parents. It will start both parties on the same footing and maintain the continuity necessary for a healthy, happy, well-adjusted and stable child.”
RECENT RESEARCH: SHARED PARENTING VERSUS SINGLE PARENTING
Shared Parenting Data
· The Journal of the American Psychological Association published a paper titled “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report” in 2014, and the conclusions were endorsed by 110 eminent authorities around the world. Authored by Dr. Richard Warshak at the University of Texas, the paper concluded, “... shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.”
· In 2016, Dr. Warshak wrote, “Two years after its publication, the conclusions and recommendations of the Warshak consensus report remain supported by science.” He also wrote, “The paper has been translated into at least eighteen languages and has informed legislative deliberations throughout the U.S. and parliamentary deliberations in several countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, Finland, Romania, Croatia, and Sweden. Two years after its publication, the consensus report continues to be one of the most downloaded papers from the journal’s website.” He added, “The list of endorsers and their stature and accomplishments reflect the field’s general acceptance of the consensus report’s findings as rooted in settled science from more than four decades of research directly relevant to this topic, including seminal studies by many of the endorsers.”
· The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health published a 150,000-person study titled “Fifty moves a year: Is there an association between joint physical custody and psychosomatic problems in children?” in May 2015 that concluded shared parenting after divorce or separation is in the best interest of children’s health because the arrangement lowers their stress levels.
· The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) published the recommendations of 32 family law experts in 2014, and the group concluded, “Children’s best interests are furthered by parenting plans that provide for continuing and shared parenting relationships that are safe, secure, and developmentally responsive and that also avoid a template calling for a specific division of time imposed on all families.”
· In December, 2016, The American Psychological Association published research by William V. Fabricius of Arizona State University in the journal Psychology, Public Policy and Law entitled, “Should Infants and Toddlers Have Frequent Overnight Parenting Time With Fathers? The Policy Debate and New Data.” Prof Fabricius’ findings provide “… strong support for policies to encourage frequent overnight parenting time [up to and including 50/50 overnights –Ed] for infants and toddlers [even younger than one year –Ed], because the benefits [for children-Ed] associated with overnights also held for parents who initially agreed about overnights as well as for those who disagreed and had the overnight parenting plan imposed over 1 parent’s objections.” Fabricius will share details on his findings during the International Conference on Shared Parenting 2017, a May 29-30, 2017 event in Boston, Massachusetts hosted by National Parents Organization and the International Council on Shared Parenting.
Single Parenting Data
According to federal statistics from sources including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Census Bureau, children raised by single parents account for:
• 63% of teen suicides;
• 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions;
• 71% of high school drop-outs;
• 75% of children in chemical abuse centers;
• 85% of those in prison;
• 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders; and
• 90% of homeless and runaway children.
ABOUT NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
National Parents Organization, a charitable and educational 501 (c)(3) organization, seeks better lives for children through family law reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers after divorce or separation. The organization is focused on promoting shared parenting and preserving a child’s strong bond with both parents, which is critically important to their emotional, mental, and physical health. In 2014, National Parents Organization released the Shared Parenting Report Card, the first study to rank the states on child custody laws. Visit the National Parents Organization website at www.nationalparentsorganization.org