July 13, 2018

Senate support necessary for children to see law's benefits 

BOSTON — National Parents Organization commends the Massachusetts House of Representatives for passing an important child custody bill that not only encourages shared parenting in instances of divorce but also stands to improve the health and well-0being of thousands of children throughout the state.

Eighteen distinguished stakeholders former Gov. Deval Patrick appointed to the Massachusetts Working Group on Child-Centered Family Law, including NPO’s Dr. Ned Holstein and Richard Fucillo, helped draft House Bill 3090, which now goes before the Senate. This legislation specifically takes into account the children's best interest — a phrase specifically used seven times in the text of the bill — and encourages outcomes of shared parental responsibility when possible while completely preserving judicial discretion.

“We encourage the Senate to look past the special interests that benefit from our broken family court system and focus instead on what children most want and need — as much time as possible with both parents, especially in instances of divorce or separation,” said Holstein, Founder and Chair of National Parents Organization. “This scenario represents a classic case of what an overwhelming majority of Massachusetts residents want and what is best for our children versus the desires of special interest groups who are fighting to protect the status quo.”

Massachusetts Residents Favor Shared Parenting

A Massachusetts non-binding ballot initiative demonstrated that 86 percent of residents voted in favor of shared parenting in instances of divorce. Meanwhile, our family courts continue to deprive children of that outcome by making one parent primary custodian in a child’s life and the other a visitor in an overwhelming majority of cases.

Research Favors Shared Parenting

At the same time, a growing amount of research shows that children benefit most from having equal time with both parents while special interest groups continue to rally against parental equality in the family courts. Examples of this research include:

·      The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health published a 150,000-person study that concluded shared parenting after divorce or separation is in the best interest of children’s health.

·      The Journal of the American Psychological Association published a paper endorsed by 110 eminent authorities around the world that concluded, “... shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.”

·      The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) published the recommendations of 32 family law experts, who concluded that “Children’s best interests are furthered by parenting plans that provide for continuing and shared parenting relationships that are safe, secure, and developmentally responsive...”

Shared Parenting Receives Unanimous Senate Support in AZ, KY, MO, SD, UT

Shared parenting legislation has recently received unanimous support through Senate votes in Arizona, Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota and Utah, as well as overwhelming support from Senate bodies in numerous other states.

“Massachusetts has been leading this conversation for years, and we are hopeful that our Senate will follow its talk with action by voting to pass this important legislation,” Holstein added. “The bottom line is that the health of our children hangs in the balance with the effects of our family courts placing them in harms way.”

Children’s Health and Well Being Improved with 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 percent of teen suicides
  • 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions
  • 71 percent of high school drop-outs
  • 75 percent of children in chemical abuse centers
  • 85 percent of those in prison
  • 85 percent of children who exhibit behavioral disorders
  • 90 percent of homeless and runaway children
At the same time, in a recent study — titled Joint Versus Sole Physical Custody: Children’s Outcomes Independent of Parent–Child Relationships, Income, and Conflict in 60 Studies — Linda Nielsen evaluated outcomes in a volume of research studies that found, for example:

  • One of the greatest advantages of joint physical custody are improved family relationships and better physical and mental health
  • Specifically, Nielsen’s research found that children in shared parenting arrangements had closer, communicative relationships with both parents and grandparents
  • As a result, Nielsen continued that “children who have close relationships with their grandparents after their parents separate are better adjusted emotionally and behaviorally than those who do not”
  • Additionally, a number of the studies found that children with shared parenting arrangements were “physically healthier and had fewer psychosomatic, stress-related problems (insomnia, intestinal problems, headaches, etc.)
  • In a large number of studies, children with shared parenting also had fewer issues relating to depression, life satisfaction, anxiety and self-esteem
  • Research also shows that children in shared parenting environments are better adjusted and have fewer behavioral issues dealing with drinking, smoking, using drugs, being aggressive, bullying, committing delinquent acts, etc.
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

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