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NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION |PRESS RELEASE
January 4, 2018

NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION URGES MISSOURI LAWMAKERS TO MOVE SHARED PARENTING FORWARD
New Family Court Reform Proposal Builds on 2016 Law

National Parents Organization applauds Missouri lawmakers for proposing legislation that helps children whose parents divorce or separate.

As The Washington Post reported, more than 20 states have recently considered legislation supportive of shared parenting – a child custody arrangement in which a child spends as close to equal time as possible with each parent. And Missouri has a new bill that’s supportive of shared parenting for fit parents in instances where domestic violence isn’t an issue. Rep. Kathy Swan is sponsoring the bill.

“Thanks to Representative Swan, the state of Missouri has the opportunity to improve children’s educational achievements, decrease their use of drugs, give them a greater sense of security, increase their child support payments, and improve their overall health and adjustment without any cost to the taxpayer – all by passing shared parenting into law,” said Linda Reutzel, Chair of National Parents Organization of Missouri. “With these benefits to hundreds of thousands of Missouri children in mind, we urge state lawmakers to make this proposal a top priority in 2018.”

The legislation, HB1667 and SB645, calls for a rebuttable presumption of shared parenting, meaning that the court should order the two-parent solution unless a judge has reason to believe the arrangement goes against the best interest of the child. The bill builds on the state child custody law from 2016 that encourages shared parenting. The proposal aligns with nearly 60 studies showing that most children with shared parenting benefit from the arrangement when compared to children in the primary care of just one parent (see “Recent Research” below).

While shared parenting remains unusual in the United States, a trend toward shared parenting has developed in recent years. It has been the usual arrangement for several years in Sweden, Belgium, and Australia, and research there has shown much better outcomes for children. A handful of states have had similar laws for several years, and each year a couple more pass such laws, most recently Kentucky.

“Passage of this bill will work to ensure that children receive the consistent love and care of both parents after separation or divorce,” said Ned Holstein, MD, Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization. “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.”

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."
  • Professor Linda Nielsen of Wake Forest University summarized a paper of hers that is about to be published as follows:  “In 42 of the 51 studies, children who lived in shared physical custody families had better outcomes than children who lived in sole physical custody families. In 4 of the 51 studies the outcomes were mixed, meaning that children in shared physical custody did better on some outcomes and worse on others. In 5 of the 51 studies, the children did equally well in both types of families. It is important to note that, in the studies that considered family income and parental conflict before comparing the children’s outcomes, children in the shared physical custody families still had better outcomes.”
  • 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.”
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 bonds with both parents, which is critically important to their emotional, mental, and physical health. National Parents Organization released the Shared Parenting Report Card, the first study to rank the states on child custody laws, and in 2017, National Parents Organization hosted the International Conference on Shared Parenting, bringing in research scholars from 18 countries to share their results on shared parenting. Visit the National Parents Organization website at www.nationalparentsorganization.org

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