Another State Adopts Shared Parenting; More Shared Parenting in New York? Elections on Thursday in Massachusetts Could be Key

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September 7, 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.
Another Victory for Shared Parenting: Nevada Makes the Grade!
By: Don Hubin, Ph.D., Member of the National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
In 2014, NPO’s Shared Parenting Report Card evaluated each state’s child custody statutes (not case law or the actual behavior of courts!) on the degree to which the laws promoted shared parenting. At that time, Nevada was near the bottom of the pack. It received only a ‘D’, a barely passing grade. To be fair, it had a lot of company at the bottom of the class. Twenty-three states received ‘D’s and two received failing grades.

But Nevada’s Parental Rights Protection Act of 2015 brought about dramatic changes—changes that will greatly benefit Nevada’s children. Attorney Keith Pickard (Henderson, Nevada), who was the principal architect of the bill, brought these changes to NPO’s attention. The changes bring NPO’s grade for Nevada’s child custody statutes from a miserable ‘D’ to a ‘C+’. A ‘C+’ on the NPO Shared Parenting Report Card might not seem like anything to brag about. But only eight other states received a ‘C+’ and only eight states received grades higher than a ‘C+’. None received an ‘A.’ So, in a single legislative act, Nevada has moved from being among the worst states for shared parenting laws to being in the top third.

Attorney Pickard wrote a very helpful guide to the improvements in Nevada’s child custody law. You can read that article at this link, but here are two highlights.
  • Nevada statutes now establish a presumption of joint legal custody and a preference for joint physical custody when the parents agree to it (which should be a no-brainer, of course) but, also, when “[a] parent has demonstrated, or has attempted to demonstrate but has had his or her efforts frustrated by the other parent, an intent to establish a meaningful relationship with the minor child” (NRS 125C.002 & 125C.0025).
  • Nevada now has uniform rules for relocating children away from the other parent whether the relocation is to another state or within the state but to a location that “would substantially impair the ability of the other parent to maintain a meaningful relationship with the child.” And the rules for relocating when parents have shared physical custody are designed to protect both parent’s relationship with the children.
What should Nevada do next? Here are a few changes that would improve its grade and, more important, improve the lives of children in Nevada: Read more...

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More Shared Parenting on the Way in New York???
By Ned Holstein, MD, MS  Founder and Chair of the Board, National Parents Organization
New York State’s highest court recently ruled that an unmarried lesbian woman (“Brooke”) who had helped raise a child with her partner was entitled to seek parenting time in family court after the couple broke up. Brooke was not a biological parent of the child. But the couple had agreed to conceive the child, gave him Brooke’s last name, and taught him to call her “Mama B.” A New York Times editorial hailed this decision as an overdue and rightful expansion of the parenting rights of people in same-gender relationships regardless of whether one of them is not a biological parent of the child. The Court based its decision in part on the research that “reveals the trauma children suffer as a result of separation from a primary attachment figure -- such as a de facto parent -- regardless of that figure’s biological or adoptive ties to the children.” Notice the crucial reference to “a” primary attachment figure, not “the” primary attachment figure. In other words, there can be more than one such parent!

National Parents Organization agrees wholeheartedly, but sees some tricky water ahead. About ten years ago, we wrote an amicus brief for Massachusetts’ highest court, the Supreme Judicial Court, supporting the parenting rights of an unmarried, non-biological lesbian mother (A.H. v. M.P., Docket No. SJC-09815). And we are thrilled that the New York Court recognized the trauma children suffer when they are forcibly separated from established parental figures. This same trauma, and the proven long-term harm it does to children, is one of the most important bases for our advocacy for shared parenting.

Having said all this, celebration is premature in my view. Nobody won any parenting time in this decision. Instead, the only thing Brooke won was the right to have a custody battle and its legal fees. The true test of whether the New York State courts take to heart “the trauma children suffer as a result of separation from a primary attachment figure” is if they begin to order much more shared parenting in heterosexual and same-gender separations alike. Read more...

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Elections This Thursday in Massachusetts Could Be Key
By Ned Holstein, MD, MS  Founder and Chair of the Board, National Parents Organization
Most people are unaware of this, but there are elections in Massachusetts on Thursday, September 8, 2016. At least two of them are of importance to our Massachusetts readers.

First, in Berkshire County, three Democrats are facing off in a primary election to fill an open seat in the state Senate. One of them is a long-time supporter of shared parenting and the other two oppose it. The winner will surely win the general election in November and take a seat in the Senate in January, since Republicans will probably not even put up a candidate in this hard-Democratic part of the state. Since there is resistance to our shared parenting bill in the Senate, (which was passed in the Massachusetts House), every Senate vote in favor of it counts.

One candidate for the Democratic nomination is Rinaldo DelGallo. Mr. DelGallo is a divorced father who has been an outspoken advocate for reform of the family courts and for shared parenting.

According to DelGallo’s column in the Berkshire Eagle newspaper, rival candidate Andrea Harrington said that instead of shared parenting, she is in favor of “maternal preference.” In other words, she thinks it is correct for family courts to favor mothers over fathers. And candidate Adam Hines declined to answer whether he supported shared parenting at one of the election debates. In a follow-up debate, Mr. Hines said that he did not support shared parenting legislation.

We have not independently confirmed the positions of the three Democratic candidates on shared parenting. Moreover, as a non-profit we do not endorse any particular candidate for public office. We are allowed, however, to disseminate information about candidates, which is what we have done above. Aside from the shared parenting issue, we do not know the relative strengths or weaknesses of the three candidates.

The other election of interest is that for the Governor’s Council in Massachusetts. The members of the Governor’s Council are elected statewide. The job of the Governor’s Council is to evaluate people who have been nominated for judgeships by the Governor and approve or disapprove them. Marilyn Pettito Devaney is currently a member of the Governor’s Council and is running for re-election. She also publicly favors shared parenting and is a member of Leading Women for Shared Parenting. We have not been informed of the views of other candidates on shared parenting. According to Terry Brennan of Leading Women for Shared Parenting, “To the best of my knowledge, Marilyn is the only Council member who meets with every judge prior to a vote and conducts a thorough investigation of each judicial candidate.”

Once again, we cannot endorse candidates, but we can pass on to you what we know about them and encourage you to vote for the candidate of your choice.

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Mark Your Calendar Now for a Unique Opportunity in 2017!

One Trip to Boston, Two Great Conferences.

First, attend the International Conference on Shared Parenting 2017 (ICSP 2017) on May 29-31, 2017 at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in Boston.

Then attend AFCC 2017 at the Sheraton Boston Hotel immediately after the close of ICSP 2017 on May 31, 2017, a five minute walk from the Westin.

To receive updated program and registration information about ICSP 2017 as it develops, visit NPO-ICSP2017.org

Questions can be directed to [email protected]


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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.

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The opinions expressed herein are those of our guest authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Parents Organization or its Board of Directors.
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