October 16, 2018
POLL: OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF OHIO VOTERS SUPPORT CONCEPT OF SHARED PARENTING IN THE STATE’S FAMILY COURTS
A recent poll of voters in Ohio showed overwhelming support for shared parenting outcomes, backing up a recent National Parents Organization (NPO) study that concluded changes could be made to many default plans throughout the state.
Public Policy Polling questioned 556 Ohio voters about shared parenting — as close to equal time with both fit and willing parents in instances of divorce or separation. The results showed 89 percent of respondents believe parents share in the responsibility of raising children regardless of marital status, and 77 percent of those polled would support a change in Ohio law that would award children equal time with both “fit and willing parents” in instances of divorce.
Only 8 percent said they would oppose such a change.
“My hope is that lawmakers and judges throughout the state will consider the evidence before them and work to facilitate improvements in Ohio’s family court system,” said Don Hubin, Ph.D., chair of the National Parents Organization’s Ohio chapter. “There’s no reason to believe that supporting an initiative to make shared parenting a default starting point would generate an adverse reaction from constituents. Shared parenting is best for children, and this most recent polling shows voters want what is best for children.”
Released last month, the Ohio Parenting Time Report found the default parenting plans in Ohio varied wildly from county to county. Only three of 88 Courts of Common Pleas received an A or A- grade in the study for default language protecting a child’s interest in having equal time with both parents following a divorce or separation.
By contrast, 64 of 88 of the required default parenting arrangements allow the nonresidential parent less than 20 percent of regular time — defined as nonvacation, nonholiday time for parents living in what the court considers “close proximity” — with their children.
The polling data collected on shared parenting showed that 82 percent of respondents believe “it is in the best interests of the child to have as much time as possible with both fit parents in instances of divorce.” Additionally, 87 percent of those polled felt children have the right to spend equal or near equal time with both parents following divorce or separation, but only 13 percent of respondents believe the family courts treat parents equally.
The results were consistent across all genders, age groups, races and political affiliations.
An overwhelming amount of research continues to show the health and wellbeing of children are best served when they maintain the important relationships with both their mother and father. According to Public Policy Polling, 88 percent of survey respondents agree with these findings.
“Studies continually show adverse effects for children following a divorce are limited when they maintain a healthy relationship with both parents,” Hubin said. “Additionally, results of this polling show people support shared parenting outcomes. The need to implement change is long overdue, and there’s no discernible reason to maintain a system that stands at odds with the will of voters.”
The Ohio Revised Code requires each Ohio Court of Common Pleas to adopt “standard parenting time guidelines” for dividing children’s time between parents when the parents live apart. These guidelines used across the state have generally been in place for decades and the majority of them have clearly become unaligned with what current studies show is in the best interest of children.
While the default parenting plans only serve as a guideline in instances when parents can’t agree to a plan, children remain subject to vastly different outcomes based simply on geography when they are utilized.
“Default parenting time schedules of each Ohio county should be grounded on the best scientific understanding of parenting schedules that are in the best interest of the children,” Hubin said. “The arbitrary and inconsistent guidelines in Ohio can’t possibly all be beneficial due to the drastic variance. Parents should be encouraged to work out an arrangement that works best for them, but a shared parenting presumption would provide a better opportunity to achieve a fair outcome that positively impacts a child’s wellbeing in all cases.”
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