Your Letters Wanted by Michigan Newspaper Which Endorsed Shared Parenting Bill
Background: Dads of Michigan, the American Coalition for Fathers and Children's Michigan affiliate, the Family Rights Coalition, and other Michigan shared parenting advocates are fighting to pass HB 4564, a shared parenting bill. They have the votes to pass the bill but are fighting to get it out of committee, where it is bottled up. In May, the Michigan National Organization for Women put out an Action Alert opposing HB 4564. I discussed NOW's opposition to the bill and laid out the case for shared parenting in my column HB 5267 Will Help Michigan"s Children of Divorce (Lansing State Journal, 5/28/06), which I co-authored with ACFC Executive Director Mike McCormick. (HB 5267 was the 2006 bill which is identical to HB 4564). The Editorial Board of the Oakland Press, one of Michigan's larger newspapers, just came out with a well-reasoned editorial endorsing HB 4564. Jay A. Fedewa, PE, Executive Director of the Family Rights Coalition, is asking that the bill's supporters email Allan Adler, the editorial page editor of the Oakland Press, to commend the paper and express support for the bill. His email address is [email protected]. Please remember to be polite and positive. The Oakland Press editorial is below. Equal parenting bill worth passing Oakland Press, 10/6/07 House Bill 4564 seems to make a very reasonable request: It calls for equal parenting time for fit parents. The bill was proposed by state Rep. Glenn Steil, R-Cascade and introduced with the support of Reps. Fran Amos, R-Waterford Township; Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy; John Stakoe, R-Highland Township; James Marleau, R-Lake Orion; and 18 other representatives. It is currently in the Families and Children"s Services Committee. It"s a shame a bill like this is needed but historically, dads have been on the short end in court cases involving custody and visitation when the parents divorce. The "best interest of the child' should always be the top priority but too often that "best interest' leaves dads out of the equation. Judges have expressed concern that the bill may take away some of their "judicial discretion.' Well, we"re all for judicial discretion, but someone has to stand up for the rights of fathers, those who are "fit' and more than willing to share parenting duties. Our courts say they are doing this now, but judges admit that in the past, the tendency has been to side with mothers, giving them more custodial and/or visitation rights. If the courts are truly doing this now, then why do so many fathers and their supporters feel the need for this legislation? We think anything that helps "good fathers' stay "good dads' is worth passing. If the law has to be tweaked so that some judges don"t feel so put upon, then make the necessary changes. But it"s time dads had some rights, too.