Hillary on Shared Parenting; Updates from Missouri, Massachusetts

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June 3, 2016

NPO Logo National Parents Organization improves the lives of children and strengthens society by protecting every child's right to the love and care of both parents after separation or divorce. We seek better lives for children through family court reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers.
 
Hillary Fights for Fathers’ Rights -- Or Does She?
By: Ned Holstein, MD, MS  Founder and Chair of the Board, National Parents Organization
Here is a story that confirms the old adage that the more things change, the more they remain the same. (“Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose.”)

A May 21, 2016 front page article in The Boston Globe headlined “Hillary Clinton Stands Up for Man in Child Custody Case” describes a 1978 custody case tried by Hillary Clinton in tiny Rison, Arkansas. Between the lines of the story, the reporter unintentionally reveals the political and monetary corruption of the family courts that persists to this day.

Before the pro-Hillary attack dogs go for the jugular, let me point out that this is not an indictment of Ms. Clinton. She only did what any young lawyer would have done in her situation. (Whoops –now the attacks will come from the anti-Hillary crowd.) Rather, this is a story about how the supposed best interest of the child in the 1978 family courts was submerged under waves of family court corruption, just like today.

Sanford Beshear and Susan Bensberg had been married to each other twice and had a daughter named Bethany when they again sought a divorce in 1978. Before Clinton was involved, a judge in rural Cleveland County, Arkansas, granted joint custody to the two parents, even though the mother now lived 70 miles away in Little Rock.

The Globe article fails to note how strikingly unusual this was for the time. This decision was counter to the prevailing teachings of the day, which held that sole custody was in the best interest of children because they allegedly needed one home, one set of rules and one caretaker. Not a single state in 1978 even had a custody statute that made provisions for joint custody. They were still operating under the “tender years” doctrine, which explicitly called for sole custody to go to the mother.

So how did a joint custody order happen? Was this a case of a prematurely enlightened family court judge doing the right thing?

There is a far more likely explanation. The article tells us that the father, Beshear, “was the only lawyer in the town and an important figure in southeastern Arkansas.” In fact, sufficiently important that he was the cochairman of Bill Clinton’s ultimately successful campaign for governor of Arkansas. We also learn in the article that there really was no fatal flaw in the mother. Read more...


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Update and Call to Action on Missouri’s Shared Parenting Bill
By: Ned Holstein, MD, MS  Founder and Chair of the Board, National Parents Organization
When we last updated you on Missouri’s strong shared parenting bill, House Bill 1550, it had passed the Missouri House 154-2 and was awaiting action in the Senate.

We are pleased to inform you that it passed the Senate unanimously, and has been sent to Governor Jay Nixon for signature. Governor Nixon has held the bill for about a week now, and his intentions are unknown. We are hoping that he perhaps intends to sign it around Fathers Day. Alternatively, the Missouri chapter of National Parents Organization has invited him to Fatherless Day on June 17, and perhaps he will sign it there.

But we really do not know his intentions. We fear that he could follow in the footsteps of Governor Rick Scott of Florida, who, under intense lobbying pressure from the bar associations, recently vetoed a shared parenting bill passed by a large margin in the Florida Legislature.

National Parents Organization continues to agitate for passage of House Bill 1550. For instance, we recently placed this op-ed by our Missouri Chairman Linda Ruetzel in the Columbia Missourian.

Now we need all Missourians to do their part by calling, writing or emailing Governor Nixon’s office and urging him to sign House Bill 1550. Here is where to find the contact information for the Governor

After you have written, called or emailed, get three of your friends and family to do the same. No one needs to be an expert on the bill. Just let them know you want it passed. If you feel compelled to do your homework, just type in “Missouri” in the search bar on the home page of our website and you will see several articles with details. But let me repeat that this is not necessary.

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Update on Shared Parenting Legislation in Massachusetts
By: Ned Holstein, MD, MS  Founder and Chair of the Board, National Parents Organization
When we last updated you on the Massachusetts shared parenting bill, we informed you that we were having meetings with the Judiciary Committee. The Committee had made numerous negative changes to the bill that had been originally developed by Governor Patrick's Working Group, on which I and others served. The purpose of the meetings was to see how much of the Working Group’s version of the bill could be restored.

The meetings have now concluded, and we feel confident that we have restored many important provisions of the Working Group. But we have still not seen the final language. Nor do we know exactly when we will see it, only that we will see it at the same time everyone else does. Only then will we know whether we can support or must oppose the bill. We will not take a middle ground: we will either be for it or against it, because if a bill passes this year, the Legislature will not seriously consider another custody reform bill for years. We do not want to be stuck with a not-good-enough bill.

Just to confuse you further, the bill has changed its number several times as it has passed through the legislative process. This makes sense if you are a legislator dealing with 9,000 bills as they progressively undergo amendments. But for a citizen, it is totally confusing.

The bill we care about was originally known as S834, then became H1207, and now is H4107. To make this more confusing, the version of H4107 that can be seen currently on the Legislature’s website is not the final version.

As soon as we see the final language of H4107, we will let you know our recommendation whether to support or oppose. We will need you to rise to the occasion again and once more deluge your Senator and Rep with letters, calls and emails to support or oppose. It worked the last time, so let’s do it again when the time comes.

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National Parents Organization is working to build a strong affiliate in every state. What will it take to bring National Parents Organization to your state? Leadership. It takes a team of volunteers to organize in your state and to reach out to legislators, media, and other groups who will work with us to make shared parenting the norm.

If you are ready, please contact Ned Holstein, National Interim Executive Director. Together we can build an affiliate in your state.

 
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