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June 28, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

One remarkable aspect of Cara Tabachnick’s frankly dishonest piece on parental alienation and the reunification program Family Bridges is the number of people who refused to be interviewed by her (Washington Post, 5/11/17). By my count, she quoted 13 people in her article, but another 11 refused to be interviewed or interact with her at all. And one of the ones who did, i.e. one of her trusted sources, Arianna Riley, won renown by threatening to bomb a TSA facility at the Los Angeles International Airport.

There are a number of reasons why a person or entity might refuse to be interviewed, but, when I spoke with Dr. Deirdre Rand of Family Bridges, she told me she saw Tabachnick as untrustworthy and promoting a dishonest agenda. Rand told me she Googled Tabachnick and found articles she’d written that dissuaded her from cooperating in the article. As but one example, this article would be enough to convince anyone who believes in fairness and balance to avoid Tabachnick like the plague (Daily Beast, 5/5/10).

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June 26, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Like all dishonest journalism, Cara Tabachnick’s article on parental alienation and the Family Bridges reunification program starts with a thesis and ignores the overwhelming weight of evidence that contradicts it (Washington Post, 5/11/17). In Friday’s piece I gave a few examples of her use of words, phrases and sentences that seem to intentionally mislead the reader. But those few barely scratch the surface. Tabachnick’s piece fairly teems with dodgy phrasing that points the reader toward her thesis – that parental alienation is a dubious theory and efforts to ameliorate its sometimes horrible results are mere “shams” designed to line the pockets of less than scrupulous mental health professionals.

As I mentioned Friday, Tabachnick undermines the first part of her thesis – that the very existence of PA is doubtful – by selecting a family on whose experiences she hangs the rest of her article, in which alienation had pretty plainly occurred. Tabachnick’s own description of the children of the Jeu family looks very much like that of alienated kids. Into the bargain, the mental health professional assigned by the court to evaluate them and the judge in the case concluded that, in fact, their mother, Sharon Jeu had alienated them. It’s a strange way to cast doubt on the existence of PA.

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June 25, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Today I’m going to deviate slightly from my previous posts on Cara Tabachnick’s misleading article on parental alienation and the Family Bridges reunification program (Washington Post, 5/11/17). Last time I pointed out several of her very many statements that, whether by design or not, clearly mislead Washington Post readers. Here’s one of the most egregious ones:

There’s scant gold-standard scientific research to help practitioners determine the best custody arrangement.

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June 23, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Continued from yesterday’s post about this article by Cara Tabachnick (Washington Post, 5/11/17).

Unlike writers like Marisa Endicott and Laurie Udesky, Tabachnick is relatively skilled at suggesting, rather than telling readers outright, that which is either false or misleading. Many of her words are plainly designed to get readers to believe a particular proposition without subjecting Tabachnick and the Washington Post to demands for a retraction and threats of lawsuits. She has a fairly high level of skill at that.

Still, Tabachnick has her moments.

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June 22, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

I’ve done several pieces recently about the shoddy articles that attempt to debunk the notion of parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome. They’re scandalously bad, ignoring vast numbers of pertinent facts, blatantly making up others, mis-defining parental alienation and, of course, selecting individual cases that seem to support their off-the-wall ideas while ignoring those that don’t.

Those articles invariably channel the natterings of the “protective mother movement” that takes as an article of faith that family courts routinely remove children from “protective” mothers and hand them over to abusive fathers. They do this often, the movement claims, because the dastardly dads have an ace up their sleeve – the allegation of parental alienation. According to the movement and the articles that serve as their mouthpiece, courts, as a matter of course, ignore mothers’ claims of abuse and swallow whole fathers’ claims of PA. That, in every state, domestic violence is a factor in determining custody never makes it into the articles or the narrative of the “protective mother” movement.

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June 21, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Michigan HB 4691 has passed the Judiciary Committee 6 – 3 on a strict party-line vote. All “Aye” votes were by Republicans and all “Nay” votes by Democrats. This article quotes one of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Jim Runestad who tells the truth about it and, by way of “balance,” quotes one of the usual anti-dad suspects who doesn’t (Detroit Free Press, 6/20/17). Writer Kathleen Gray appears to have neglected to read the bill. Failing that though, she could have read this article by Runestad himself (Detroit News, 6/17/17). It gives facts about the bill she plainly hasn’t taken the trouble to learn any other way.

Absent reports of domestic violence, judges would be required to award joint legal custody of children to divorcing parents under a bill that passed the House Judiciary Committee today.

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June 19, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

I spoke too soon. Of course I did. No sooner had I proclaimed that I hadn’t found any overtly dad-hating articles for Father’s Day, I stumbled across this (NPR, 6/18/17). But hey, it’s NPR, so what did I expect?

Now the gist of the article is the many problems we face as a society due to fatherlessness, with the focus on educational deficits. That’s an appropriate theme for a Father’s Day piece. But NPR just couldn’t let it go at that. It had to – just had to – get in a slap at fathers.

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June 18, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

So far, it’s been a good Father’s Day. By that I mean there’ve been few, if any, article’s shaming, disrespecting, belittling dads. That’s strange, given the fact that, traditionally, Father’s Day is celebrated by much of the mainstream media by telling all and sundry how worthless fathers are. Seizing on the one day in the year when we’re supposed to simply give a tip of the hat to dads and all they do for their kids and wives/partners to instead denigrate them has always appeared to me to be not only cowardly, but in the worst of taste. After all, can’t those people manage to contain their vitriol for a day?

This year seems different. The anti-dad crowd is uncharacteristically muted. Even this article that appears at first glance to be more of the same, actually isn’t (MSN, 6/15/17). Could the lack of dad-hating articles be yet another sign that the worm is turning?

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June 18, 2017

To all the fathers out there, National Parents Organization wishes you the very best on your special day!

This Fathers’ Day, there’s much to be thankful for. By every measure, the move toward true parenting equality in family courts and family laws is closer than ever to the tipping point. When that day comes, the critical mass of grass-roots advocacy, the social science on children’s needs and the basic human desire for fairness will create the reality of equal parenting as the norm rather than the exception. More than ever, we see a weak opposition peddling long-debunked claims, a burgeoning movement for equal parenting and fewer and fewer anti-dad messages from pop culture.

There is much work yet to do, but on this Fathers’ Day, 2017, we are closer than ever to justice and actually doing what’s best for our children.

Could anyone want a better Fathers’ Day gift?

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June 16, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The National Parents Organization is supporting a shared parenting bill currently before the House Judiciary Committee of the Michigan Legislature. The inside scoop is that committee members generally favor the bill, but NPO wants to make sure it gets voted out of committee and onto the House floor. So everyone in Michigan should contact all member of the committee and urge them to vote ‘aye’ on HB 4691.

The bill has some very strong aspects to it. Most importantly, it establishes a presumption of shared parenting (both legal and physical) that means neither parent is to have more than 200 days per year (about 55%) with the child. The usual exceptions of course apply – a different agreement by the parents, domestic violence, child abuse and unfitness.

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June 15, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

One last word on Marisa Endicott’s terrible piece in the Huffington Post (Huffington Post, 6/9/17). If readers of this blog still doubt how low she stooped in her attempt to claim that, in some way, abusive fathers routinely get custody of children by claiming parental alienation on the part of the mother, today’s short piece should put them to rest.

Recall that Endicott referred to an old American Psychological Association task force report on domestic violence and its role in child custody cases.

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June 14, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

In her article for the Huffington Post about which I’ve written the previous two days, Marisa Endicott treads uncertainly between the merely misleading and the outright false (Huffington Post, 6/9/17). Hers is the type of zeal we often see coming from those who would erect still more barriers between children and their fathers. Endicott’s taken up the cause of those who pretend that no parent ever alienates a child from another parent. That of course plumbs the depths of absurdity. The newspapers are chock full of obvious examples to the contrary.

One standard dodge by the anti-dad crowd is to elide the differences between PAS and PA. Endicott proves herself an adept student.

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June 12, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Picking up from yesterday’s piece about yet another scurrilous article attempting to cast aspersions on the concept of parental alienation and/or parental alienation syndrome (Huffington Post, 6/9/17). Marisa Endicott’s article isn’t as bad as Laurie Udesky’s similar one back in February, but it’s still well beneath the standards of anyone who’s seriously seeking the truth about their chosen subject.

And, without saying so directly, Endicott’s, like all other such pieces, is a thinly-veiled effort to place yet another obstacle between fathers and their children. Typical of the genre, she chose a mother as her sole representative of a parent who claimed abuse, was met with a counterclaim of PA and lost custody of her kids. Despite the fact that fathers are as capable of alienating as are mothers, people like Endicott never manage to locate one. Doing so would upset their preferred narrative that PA and PAS are simply methods by which abusive and unscrupulous fathers take custody from deserving mothers.

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June 11, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

“Protective” mothers are at it again. This time their gullible mouthpiece is one Marisa Endicott writing in – surprise! – the Huffington Post (Huffington Post, 6/9/17). As usual, it’s an effort to convince readers that parental alienation is just a clever ruse by abusive fathers to get custody of their kids.

Now, to be clear, by the standards of this type of article, hers is pretty good. Of course that’s setting the bar about as low as it can be set. This stuff usually wouldn’t pass muster with the National Enquirer. Back in February I wrote several pieces on an article by Laurie Udesky that was so abysmally awful it almost defied description (see further links at the bottom of the linked-to post). Endicott’s is significantly more balanced and, frankly, ethical than that, but still it misrepresents the realities of its subject.

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June 9, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Remember, you read it here first. I’ve discovered something on which President Trump and Hillary Clinton agree. No, really! I believe I’ve scooped all other media outlets on this one.

President Trump’s recently released budget includes massive increases in funding for what originated in the late 90s as a Hillary Clinton initiative, the Adoption and Safe Families Act. Read about that here (Chronicle of Social Change, 5/26/17).

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June 8, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Back in February, I wrote this about the case of Graham Mills, a British man who runs a small-but-thriving surveying company. He and his wife Maria had been married just 13 years when they divorced 15 years ago. At the time, Mills gave his ex £230,000 in cash which amounted to all of his liquid assets. He also agreed to pay her £1,100 per month alimony.

But Maria blew the money. She bought at least two houses she couldn’t afford, couldn’t make the payments and now has nothing of the money paid her by Graham. To most people, that would be a problem, but far from an insurmountable one. Most people would simply tighten their belts, resolve to be smarter about their spending habits and perhaps up their hours worked per week.

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June 7, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Having dispensed with Hilary Towers’ nonsense published by the Institute for Family Studies, I can now return to the good news – Day Two of the International Conference on Shared Parenting. The conference was a feel-good moment for, I think, everyone there. The sense that we’re on the right track was solidified when Dr. Sanford Braver, one of the most prominent of all researchers in the field of child custody and parenting time, told activists there that it’s “just a matter of time before this (shared parenting) penetrates” and to “keep fighting because you’re winning.” Powerful encouragement indeed.

Day Two began with Australian law professor and researcher Patrick Parkinson speaking on relocations by one parent. He’s studied the matter and found that almost invariably, the parent wanting to move is the mother. In the cases Parkinson studied, relocation was approved by the court in 60% of cases. That’s true despite the fact that it meant the loss to the child of friends and moving to a different school and of course the move dealt a serious (sometimes fatal) blow to the child’s relationship with his/her father. Of those whose relocation request was denied, over half said it was better that they hadn’t moved.

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June 5, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Continuing from yesterday’s piece on this horror show courtesy of one Hilary Towers (IF Studies, 6/2/17).

As I mentioned yesterday, Towers may have read the article by Richard Warshak to which she referred in her own piece. If she did, she certainly didn’t learn anything about what shared parenting is or that it’s kids’ best parenting time alternative when their parents split up. She also didn’t click on any of Warshak’s several links that would have helped her understand those two things that are, after all, rather important if one is to write about shared parenting. Nor did she read any other scientific literature on shared parenting that, as none other than Sanford Braver said at the just concluded International Conference on Shared Parenting, should be the default position of courts deciding custody and parenting time issues.

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June 4, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

I find I must take a short detour from reporting on the International Conference on Shared Parenting. Why? For two reasons. The first is that the conference so powerfully made the case for shared parenting that this article was impossible for me to allow to stand (IF Studies, 6/2/17). Second, the article is so chock full of false concepts, false “facts” and frank ignorance about shared parenting that I find myself unable to delay a response. Almost every sentence crawls with ignorance and misplaced blame.

Where to begin? I’ll start by being as kind as I can. The author, a psychologist named Hilary Towers, doesn’t like the concept of no-fault divorce. She believes it allows spouses to walk out of a marriage too easily and, when they do, children run a high risk of being harmed. She perceives a moral dimension to marriage and the raising of kids that’s diminished by no-fault divorce.

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June 2, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The following are a few of the high points of the presentations at the International Conference on Shared Parenting by the cream of the world’s scientific crop working in the field of child custody, parenting time and child well-being.

Professor Linda Nielsen gave us her conclusions from analyzing all 52 studies of shared parenting in English-language journals. Note that she reviewed every single study, so her conclusions aren’t the result of cherry-picking. In 30 of those studies, children in shared care did better than kids in sole or primary parenting arrangements on every measure of child well-being reported. In 12 studies, they did better or equally well on all measures. In six, they did better on all but one measure and in four the outcomes were equal.

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June 1, 2017 by Ned Holstein, MD, MS, Chair of the Board, National Parents Organization

On May 29 and 30, attendees from 24 countries ranging from China to the Middle East to Europe to North America gathered at the Downtown Westin Hotel in Boston to hear the world’s experts on shared parenting.

They heard that over 50 research studies support shared parenting as the best arrangement for most kids after parents separate or divorce; that shared parenting is better even when there is conflict between the parents (but not domestic violence); that legal conflict between the parents alone does not take away the advantages of shared parenting; that it is better even for infants; and that it improves children’s lives on numerous measures (better physical and mental health, better psychosocial adjustment, better relationships with both dad and mom, better grades in school, less delinquency, happier, and lots more).

Due to the broad international participation, the high quality of the program, the publicity we were able to attract, the videos that will be distributed and the upcoming publication of the plenary presentations, I believe that this Conference may well have an impact for many years. We asked at the beginning whether a watershed moment had been reached in our understanding of the best interest of the child. At the conclusion of the Conference, I think that from both a scientific and societal perspective, the answer will be yes.

Finally, I thought you might like to see some of the publicity we got.  

The conference was organized and hosted primarily by National Parents Organization, with substantial assistance from the Europe-based International Council on Shared Parenting.

I am sure Robert Franklin will be blogging on our website in the days to come about many of the fascinating details that emerged.

Together with you in the love of our children,
Ned Holstein
Founder and Chairman of the Board

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June 1, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The National Parents Organization’s International Conference on Shared Parenting wrapped up Tuesday evening. By any measure, it was a resounding success. Attendees came away both informed and energized. There is every possibility that we will look back in the coming years and see the conference as a watershed moment in the history of family court reform.

People came from 24 countries, some from as far away as Australia and Japan to hear an all-star lineup of scientists report on the state of what we know about shared parenting and its effects on children, parents and the courts. That alone would have been worth the price of admission, but there was more. Activists about equaled scientists not only in number but in fervor. The all-important issue of translating science into public policy was taken head-on in break-out sessions and strides were made in understanding how to accomplish that.

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May 31, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

This piece from the always excellent Bettina Arndt raises the possibility that, in Australia at least, family courts are ignoring the exhortations of Jennifer McIntosh and giving fathers overnight time with their infants and toddlers (Mark Latham’s Outsiders, 5/15/17).

Here’s some rare good news about our Family Court system. Fewer dads with very young children are being denied overnight care of their infants and toddlers.

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May 29, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

It’s always good to see the right message delivered in the news media and such was the case here (Central Florida Post, 5/8/17). Deborah Leff-Kelapire is writing about alimony reform in Florida and she hits all the right buttons. I’ve inveighed against our alimony laws before and particularly Florida’s. My take on alimony is that it’s outdated and unnecessary except in rare cases. Plus, it’s bad public policy since it discourages marriage, discourages remarriage and encourages divorce.

Leff-Kelapire takes aim at all those issues and more.

Alimony laws in Florida are antiquated and must be reformed. Florida is an outlier state because alimony can be permanent and is punitive. Permanent alimony may have been appropriate in a different era when the alimony laws were established, but certainly not in the 21st century where the economic reality is such that most women work outside the home.

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