April 26, 2018
NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION CELEBRATES LANDMARK KENTUCKY SHARED PARENTING LAW
With Governor Bevin’s Signature, Kentucky Now Leads the Nation in Shared Parenting After Divorce
FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY -- Thanks to Kentucky legislators and Gov. Bevin, Kentucky now leads the nation in protecting children’s best interests when parents divorce or separate. The historic moment arrived on Thursday, April 26, when Gov. Matt Bevin signed HB528, a bill stating equal parenting time is best for children.
“April 26 goes down in history as the day Kentucky became the first true shared parenting state in the United States. Kentucky, more than any other state, can now say it does everything it can to give children two loving parents after divorce – just as our children deserve,” said Matt Hale, Chair of National Parents Organization in Kentucky, who led the reform effort for five years. “Research overwhelmingly shows children want and need both parents after separation. Our state lawmakers responded by aligning state laws with the research. This represents a common sense yet unprecedented move. Our lawmakers and primary sponsors Jason Petrie and Kevin Bratcher should be commended.”
While a handful of states have laws supportive of shared parenting and about 25 states have considered similar reform in the past year, Kentucky’s new law goes the furthest by establishing a “presumption, rebuttable by a preponderance of evidence, that joint custody and equally shared parenting time is in the best interest of the child.” This means only fit parents will receive shared parenting. For instance, parents with a domestic violence finding will not qualify for equal parenting time.
The law passed the Kentucky House and Senate before Gov. Bevin signed it – the law takes effect in June.
While Kentucky now leads the nation in shared parenting, just a few years ago it was one of the worst states in this area. In 2014, Kentucky received a D- on National Parents Organization’s Shared Parenting Report Card, which graded each state on its shared parenting laws. Last year, Hale led the effort for the unanimously approved HB 492, which created a presumption of shared parenting in temporary custody orders.
“The primary custody that we continue to see nationwide deprives children the consistent love and care of both parents. I am very proud to say I’m from Kentucky, the state serving as the shining example of how to fix the family court system and best serve families,” Hale said.
RECENT RESEARCH: SHARED PARENTING VERSUS SINGLE PARENTING
Shared Parenting Data
- In January 2018, The Journal of Child Custody published an update on child development research surrounding what’s best for kids when parents divorce or separate. In the update, Linda Nielsen, a Wake Forest University professor of adolescent and educational psychology, analyzed 60 studies spanning multiple decades and numerous countries. She concluded that shared parenting is better for children than single parenting on almost every measure of wellbeing.
- In September 2017, Acta Paediatrica, a peer-reviewed medical journal in the field of pediatrics, published a paper by Swedish researcher Malin Bergstrom of the Karolinska Institute titled “Preschool children living in joint physical custody arrangements show less psychological symptoms than those living mostly or only with one parent” – it concluded the mental health of children ages three to five with shared parenting is better on average than the mental health of those in the care of a single parent.
- 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 shared 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.
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.
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