Read the news coverage and op-eds about our Shared Parenting Report Card at the links below:
August 28, 2019 by Ginger Gentile, Deputy Executive Director
November 22, 2019 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors
Well, that didn’t take long. I’ve been writing about the reaction, by those who apparently want fathers marginalized in their children’s lives, to the latest review of family law in Australia. Their claims have little basis in fact and are best viewed as efforts to maintain the status quo in family courts.
Their main point is that judges routinely ignore mother’s claims of domestic violence and child abuse in order to hand over child custody to abusive fathers. Of course, in many cases judges rule against mothers who claim abuse because there’s insufficient evidence of it or, sometimes, the claims are deliberately fabricated. But according to the likes of Zoe Rathus and Jess Hill, mothers apparently never lie about abuse. If Mom says it happened, it happened. Such seems to be their basic assumption.
Indeed, the headline to the Rathus article was “Parental Alienation: the debunked theory that mothers lie about violence is still used in court.” Never mind that that’s not what PA is and never mind that PA has never been “debunked” and in fact is coming to be more and more understood by legal and mental health practitioners. The key to the Rathus piece (and others) is the assumption that mothers don’t lie about violence or abuse. It’s patent nonsense, but that’s their claim.
Now, hard on the heels of those scurrilous claims, comes a case out of Nebraska that demands an answer from those who claim that, when a mother claims abuse, it’s always the truth. What do they say to every judge in the case and every witness, expert and non-expert alike, who testified under oath that the mother in the case was not only wrong in her claims of abuse, but obviously so? What do they say to the clear evidence that what Mom did in the case was itself abusive of her daughter? Facts are stubborn things, so I’d be interested in their response.
This three-part series is written by Ashley-Nicole Russell, an author, speaker, and attorney, who is a child of divorce and a divorcee. She is an expert in divorce culture and shared parenting techniques. Through this series, she will explain what divorcing parents need to keep in mind during the holiday season as they work through separation, divorce, and/or life after divorce.
Part 1: Pledging to Co-Parent
I’m sure you and your spouse never thought divorce would be in your future. While your lives will significantly change, your child’s life doesn’t have to be significantly impacted. The holiday season is full of excitement, magic, and wonder. You and your spouse must come to agreement that you both don’t want your divorce to change your child’s perception of Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, or New Year’s celebrations.
As a Collaborative Law divorce attorney, I believe in co-parenting and shared parenting agreements rather than court ordered custody agreements. If you’ve never heard of it, the Collaborative process is a legal alternative to court proceedings for couples facing divorce. This type of divorce is similar, yet different from mediation. During a Collaborative Law divorce, you have an attorney who can give legal advice. Each spouse must have their own attorney as they are separately represented. In mediation, a third-party is tasked with negotiating settlements with neutrality. This third-party cannot offer legal advice and represents neither of the spouses during the process.
When children are involved, a Collaborative process if often favored by most parents because child custody agreements are handled out of the court system. Children are not meant for the environment of a volatile and traumatic courtroom. There are dozens of studies that show the lasting impact a traditional divorce proceeding can have on children. As researched and cited in my recently published book, The Cure for Divorce Culture, children of the traditional litigation divorce model commit suicide 30% more, are addicted to substances and alcohol 18% more, and divorce at an alarming rate or do not get married at all. A 35-year longitudinal study shows children are broken from the conflict of divorce. I believe this conflict begins in a large part with primary and secondary parental titles.