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A Personal Message from Ned Holstein

National Parents Organization has launched a nationwide search for a new, full time, professional Executive Director! Having an experienced, accomplished, full time, well-paid Executive Director will vastly improve our strength and effectiveness. If you like NPO now, wait til you see 2018!

At considerable expense, we have contracted with a major national executive search firm in New York City that specializes in non-profits. Known as DRG, they have successfully placed high executives ranging from non-profits smaller than ours to behemoths. DRG has thousands of nationwide contacts they can tap to locate good candidates. And they are experienced in how to use social media for maximum effectiveness in recruiting.

We hope to have chosen a candidate and reached an agreement with her/him by the end of January, 2018. We are excited that the Search Consultant we will work with at DRG already understands the family law issues and does not need an education in these matters.

We will be offering a substantial salary, because NPO’s success will hinge on the quality of the Executive Director we are able to attract. Candidates will be able to stay where they currently live, if they so desire. Our key people are already distributed around the country, and we work from a “virtual office.” With growth, we may need to establish a central office, but that is for the future.

Since I work without compensation, this change will cause a substantial increase in our expenses. So we do need you to continue and to even increase the gifts you have made to support this organization.

Imagine: many more media appearances; much more social media action; many more interactions with thought leaders in the areas of family court, child development and justice; much more lobbying; many more online and in-person campaigns; many more state affiliates getting much more support from the national organization; many more meetings and rallies; in short, much more of everything!

That is, much more of everything if you support us, which you can do by clicking here.

If you are interested to learn about this position, click here to see the job posting that has already gone out through multiple platforms. If you are personally interested in the position, please note that you should reply to our Search Consultant, Sara Lundberg, not to me.

Which brings up a personal note. I have been running National Parents Organization off and on since 1998 --- with lots of help from many others. During these years, we have also had Dan Hogan, Glenn Sacks and Rita Fuerst Adams as Executive Directors for many of those years. Now we are taking a major step upwards towards more highly paid, experienced and professional non-profit leadership. The time is ripe for renewal, new blood, and change.

I will continue on the Board of Directors for at least one year, to ensure continuity and success with our new Executive Director. I will also lead a few specific projects, with the agreement of the new leader. So you can be sure there will be continuity, effectiveness and dynamism at the top.

We ain’t seen nothing yet!

Looking forward with excitement to the next chapter…

Together with you in the love of our children,

Ned Holstein

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

It’s just been four days since the Washington Post article I wrote about yesterday was published.  As I said, it was picked up by at least two major-circulation dailies, the Denver Post and the Chicago Tribune.  Now it’s been read by John Bolch (Marilyn Stowe Blog, 12/14/17).

My opinion of Mr. Bolch is well known to anyone who reads this blog even occasionally.  Bolch almost invariably manages to combine smugness with ignorance, a bad combination in anyone about any subject.  He routinely gets matters wrong about British family law and court practice.  This, despite the fact that he swears he used to practice family law there.  He’s claimed, for example, that recent amendments to the Children’s Act mandate some improvement in parenting time for non-custodial parents when the plain wording of the statute requires no such thing.

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

This is another huge win for the National Parents Organization (Washington Post, 12/11/17). It’s a strongly positive article about shared parenting in a major mainstream newspaper. It specifically cites NPO as the major force behind recent legislative changes promoting equal parenting. It quotes the head of the NPO Virginia chapter, Christian Paasch, at length.

Important too is the fact that the Post has a strongly liberal readership. In the past, liberal publications were generally less open to the idea of shared parenting than their more conservative counterparts. The Washington Post’s daily circulation is the eighth largest in the country. The article was picked up by at least two other major dailies, the Denver Post and the Chicago Tribune whose circulations are, respectively, 10th and 11th in the nation. Together, those papers reach about 1.3 million readers every day. This article represents an important change in the zeitgeist regarding family court reform.

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December 13, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

I have two things to say about this (NBR, 12/11/17). First, our approach to division of marital assets isn’t sensible. Second, a person’s outcome in family court reflects the proclivities of the judge in the case and little else.

The case reported on occurred in New Zealand. For reasons I can only guess at, the two spouses are given pseudonyms not only by the article, but by the various courts that ruled on their case. The two had children, but this isn’t a custody matter. So I don’t see the point of keeping the public in the dark about who these people are. In any event, the woman’s nom de guerre is Ms. Scott and the man’s, Mr. Williams.

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

Yesterday I posted a piece based on reporting by the Austin American-Statesman about improvements to the child protection system in Texas. Its message was that, with the huge influx of money budgeted by the state legislature, major improvements have been made with more likely to come.

Two days later, however, came this piece from Robert Garrett at the Dallas Morning News (Dallas Morning News, 12/7/17). Garrett has, for several years now, been head and shoulders the best reporter on the Department of Family and Protective Services, the multiple scandals surrounding it, the lawsuit against it in Judge Janice Jack’s federal court in Corpus Christi and legislative efforts to improve matters.

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December 10, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Things are heating up around the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. The next few months promise real fireworks.

Assiduous readers of this blog will remember the many scandals that plagued the DFPS for years. Most of that – perhaps all of that – stemmed from the fact that the state budgeted too little money to operate a proper system of child protection. Too little money meant too few caseworkers who had too little experience. That meant inexperienced caseworkers were expected to handle caseloads that ran two or three times industry standards. Low pay and high caseloads in turn resulted in stratospheric levels of caseworker turnover.

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

This follows up on yesterday’s piece in CNN on maternal gatekeeping by Elissa Strauss (CNN, 12/6/17).

As I said yesterday, Strauss seems to be blind to much of the science on parenting and the statistics on what men and women prefer to do with their time, given the chance.  But about maternal gatekeeping, she’s pretty well-informed and accurate.

Of course she blames gatekeeping more on societal pressures to be a good mother than on biology or any power dynamic that might be affecting the relationship between the parents.  That a mother might want to push her partner aside in the nursery for selfish reasons doesn’t intrude onto the Strauss narrative. 

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

This being CNN, it’s surprising how much the writer, Elissa Strauss, gets right about her subject, maternal gatekeeping (CNN, 12/6/17). What’s not so surprising is her off-the-rack inability to grasp the larger realities of that subject. Put simply, her assumptions are largely misguided.

Those assumptions run something like this: (a) women generally would prefer to work for a living; (b) men’s doing less childcare limits their ability to do (a); (c) biology has nothing to do with sex roles or women’s desire to play the maternal role and (d) women generally make better parents than do men, but sometimes men can be good enough.

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December 6, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

If you want to know just how crazy family courts can be, here’s a good example. As you read the appellate court’s opinion linked to, remember that the father in this case won this one. By who knows what means, he managed to appeal the mind-blowingly unjust and absurd ruling of the lower court and get it reversed. Needless to say, most people have neither the money nor the education to do that.

Dean and Carolyn Grover married in 1980 and divorced in 2011. He was a software engineer with IBM and apparently earned a pretty good living. They had two children, one of whom continues to live with Carolyn despite being an adult. Reading between the lines, I conclude that she probably has some form of disability that requires continued care and support from her parents. Part of the lower court’s order was for child support for that daughter and Dean didn’t appeal that part of the order, so I suspect he thinks she needs it.

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

The truth has a way of taking a beating these days. In my last post I listed just a few of the recent newly-public figures who’ve dared to speak the truth and been excoriated by the press and, in more than one instance, fired from their job for their troubles.

Now, no one is going to fire Denzel Washington from his job. He’s boffo at the box office, and everyone knows it, but even he isn’t immune to the type of outrage that seems to invariably meet often obviously true statements. Recall that Washington was quoted thus by a New York Daily News article:

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December 3, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Lately, the truth is considered to be dubious and dangerous. Indeed, it can get you fired as James Damore at Google, Evergreen College’s Brett Weinstein, Wendy McElroy, Laura Kipnis and countless others have learned to their detriment. In the continuing fight among humans to decide whether we’re going to honor faith over science or vice versa, faith is, for now, winning. Elites who form the zeitgeist have adopted certain narratives and faith in those narratives rejects all contradictory evidence. So the fact that numerous qualified and reputable scientists backed up Damore’s statement as scientifically sound made no difference either to Google or to his vilification in the press.

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

This surprisingly balanced and informative article reports that, in the U.K., Cafcass has begun a new protocol in situations of parental alienation (The Guardian, 11/17/17). Now, I don’t want to be too enthusiastic about the change. This is Cafcass, after all, that has a richly deserved reputation for taking far too many children into care and running roughshod over the rights of fathers and children. So I’ll wait and see what actually happens. But for now, at least the message is a positive one.

Sarah Parsons, the assistant director of Cafcass, said: “We are increasingly recognising that parental alienation is a feature in many of our cases and have realised that it’s absolutely vital that we take the initiative. Our new approach is groundbreaking.”

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November 30, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

This continues yesterday’s piece on Michigan child support data (MLive, 11/27/17).

Recall that, although the article never mentions shared parenting, its information fairly shouts in favor of it. That’s because, to at least a significant degree, equal parenting would simply displace child support. When each parent has the child half-time, we can assume that each is paying, if not equally, then sufficiently. That of course would confer a host of benefits on children, parents, courts and the public purse.

Today, we find the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services congratulating itself on collecting child support, i.e. justifying the existence of its collection efforts. Those efforts cost taxpayers a whopping $234.4 million in 2015, the year for which these statistics are reported.

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

In Michigan, House Bill 4691 is much in the news. So far, the coverage of it and its subject, shared parenting, has been almost uniformly positive. The lone voice in opposition has been that of a divorce lawyer bent on keeping his cash flow robust. (As an aside, that lawyer, John F. Schaefer, has still not responded to my request to produce any evidence that the current system of primary/sole parenting is beneficial to kids. In his op-ed, he claimed it’s supported by “solid research,” but, despite my asking, Schaefer hasn’t produced the goods.)

This article says not a word about shared parenting because that’s not its subject (MLive, 11/27/17). But in fact, shared parenting is the elephant in the room. It’s there everywhere a reader looks. I suspect it’s no accident that the article appears in the middle of the debate over HB 4691. And that, like the rest of the coverage (except for Schaefer’s piece) is all to the good.

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November 27, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

It’s by now no secret that the tax bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives includes a remarkable approach to alimony. Specifically, alimony payments will no longer be deductible by the payor. Apparently they also won’t be income to the recipient. That’s produced a small flurry of concern in certain quarters. This article from the Associated Press is pretty much par for the course (NBC-2, 11/26/17).

I say that because it considers mostly the recipient’s point of view, quotes mostly pro-payee sources and almost entirely ignores the pain caused to payors should the measure be enacted into law. Coincidentally, 97% of alimony payors are men and 97% of payees are women. So the measure can be accurately read as a further attack on the pocketbooks of men, but that’s not how the article spins the story.

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A Personal Message from Ned Holstein

National Parents Organization has launched a nationwide search for a new, full time, professional Executive Director! Having an experienced, accomplished, full time, well-paid Executive Director will vastly improve our strength and effectiveness. If you like NPO now, wait til you see 2018!

At considerable expense, we have contracted with a major national executive search firm in New York City that specializes in non-profits. Known as DRG, they have successfully placed high executives ranging from non-profits smaller than ours to behemoths. DRG has thousands of nationwide contacts they can tap to locate good candidates. And they are experienced in how to use social media for maximum effectiveness in recruiting.

We hope to have chosen a candidate and reached an agreement with her/him by the end of January, 2018 We are excited that the Search Consultant we will work with at DRG already understands the family law issues and does not need an education in these matters.

We will be offering a substantial salary, because NPO’s success will hinge on the quality of the Executive Director we are able to attract. Candidates will be able to stay where they currently live, if they so desire. Our key people are already distributed around the country, and we work from a “virtual office.” With growth, we may need to establish a central office, but that is for the future.

Since I work without compensation, this change will cause a substantial increase in our expenses. So we do need you to continue and to even increase the gifts you have made to support this organization.

Imagine: many more media appearances; much more social media action; many more interactions with thought leaders in the areas of family court, child development and justice; much more lobbying; many more online and in-person campaigns; many more state affiliates getting much more support from the national organization; many more meetings and rallies; in short, much more of everything!

That is, much more of everything if you support us, which you can do by clicking here.

If you are interested to learn about this position, click here to see the job posting that has already gone out through multiple platforms. If you are personally interested in the position, please note that you should reply to our Search Consultant, Sara Lundberg, not to me.

Which brings up a personal note. I have been running National Parents Organization off and on since 1998 --- with lots of help from many others. During these years, we have also had Dan Hogan, Glenn Sacks and Rita Fuerst Adams as Executive Directors for many of those years. Now we are taking a major step upwards towards more highly paid, experienced and professional non-profit leadership. The time is ripe for renewal, new blood, and change.

I will continue on the Board of Directors for at least one year, to ensure continuity and success with our new Executive Director. I will also lead a few specific projects, with the agreement of the new leader. So you can be sure there will be continuity, effectiveness and dynamism at the top.

We ain’t seen nothing yet!

Looking forward with excitement to the next chapter…

Together with you in the love of our children,

Ned Holstein

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

On Friday, November 17, a judge in Los Angeles ordered joint custody and equal parenting time for actor Tyrese Gibson and his ex-wife Norma Mitchell Gibson of their daughter Shayla (People, 11/18/17). Gibson immediately issued a statement that began with these words:

Today is not a win for me, it is a win for our daughter, Shayla.

Right. And wrong. If the only thing determining whether it’s a “win” or not is the final order, then yes, it’s a win for the child. She needs and deserves both her parents and now she has them. That’s good for all concerned and I’m glad the judge had the good sense to order equal parenting.

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November 24, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The next time you hear someone pontificate that child support is “for the children,” remember this (Patch, 11/22/17).

And while you’re thinking about child support, think also about what brings it about, i.e. divorce. And while you’re thinking about divorce, don’t forget where that takes place, i.e. divorce court. Do all that because the case of Thomas Doheny is one of capital punishment by divorce court.

Do I overstate the matter? Judge for yourself.

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

In Canada, the Nanos polling and research organization has come out with a new survey of the level of support for equal parenting. We’ve seen this before. In years past, both Nanos and others have polled Canadians on equal parenting and the results remain pretty constant at about 70% support. That’s what the most recent poll showed. (A recent poll in Michigan found an astounding 84% of people supporting shared parenting, and 64% doing so strongly.)

Nanos asked 1,000 Canadians across the country this question: “Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose federal and provincial legislation to create a presumption of equal parenting in child custody cases?”

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

Is the Lansing State Journal taking a stand in favor of shared parenting? It published NPO’s Linda Wright’s fine piece supporting HB 4691 that would create a presumption of shared parenting. Now it’s published this one by Karl Dersch who, like Wright, nails the issues (Lansing State Journal, 11/19/17).

Best of all, Dersch goes beyond the many benefits of shared parenting to the family members involved in a divorce and points out the positive impact shared parenting would have on society at large. As I’ve said many times, an array of social ills is associated with fatherlessness and yet family courts routinely remove fathers from meaningful roles in their children’s lives. That’s bad for kids, bad for mothers, bad for fathers and bad for society generally. Dersch gets it.

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November 20, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Last week, I posted two pieces rebutting the scandalously inaccurate and nakedly self-interested claims by Michigan attorney John F. Schaefer. One of his most blatantly misleading claims he was that the system of sole/primary parenting post-divorce is backed up by “solid research.” So I emailed Schaefer asking for links to the said research. It’s been five days now and, to no one’s surprise, Schaefer hasn’t responded, much less produced the, er, “solid research.”

That serves as a lead-in to this excellent article by NPO’s Linda Wright regarding the same legislation, Michigan House Bill 4691 (Lansing State Journal, 11/19/17). Of course that’s the same bill Schaefer wrote about, even though his representation of it bore almost no resemblance to the actual bill. Wright hits all the high spots about shared parenting and HB 4691, but perhaps most important is this:

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

Are Nebraska courts getting soft? By ‘soft’ I mean more amenable to shared parenting. Has someone convinced them that shared parenting is actually best for kids? Is such a thing possible?

The reason I ask is the case of Berndt vs. Berndt issued by an appellate court on November 14th. It’s a simple case that, I strongly suspect, would have turned out differently just two or three years ago. I may be reading between the lines too much, but still, that’s my suspicion.

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November 17, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

This continues from yesterday’s post.

At this point, it’s appropriate to thank John Schaefer for one thing (Detroit News, 11/13/17). His article is a mess of misrepresentations about what he does know and errors about things he doesn’t, like the science on shared parenting. But fair is fair and Schaefer deserves thanks.

That’s not because of his words, but because of his photo. The image he provided to the Detroit News fairly shouts “wealthy and prosperous!” Schaefer, in his tailored dark blue suit, bright white shirt and hankie and silk necktie, is the very picture of the well-heeled divorce lawyer. As such, his photo tells readers what his words do not – that divorce law can be very, very lucrative. So, for all the dishonesty of his words, his picture speaks the truth.

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

If there’s a shared parenting bill before a state legislature, there must be at least one family lawyer ready and willing to misrepresent it to whoever will listen. And sure enough, there’s a strong shared parenting bill with lots of support in the Michigan Legislature and divorce attorney John Schaefer to oppose it on specious grounds (Detroit News, 11/13/17).

As seems to be invariably the case when family lawyers oppose a shared parenting bill, there are two possibilities – either Schaefer has read HB 4691 or he hasn’t. If he hasn’t, he should have, because writing an op-ed on a subject about which one is ignorant does a disservice to readers. If he has read the bill, he’s intentionally misrepresenting it, an even more serious indictment of him and his article.

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