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NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

February 8, 2014 by Peter Barclay, Protect Veteran’s Benefits

As many know, I work veteran issues and with family issues. I run the Facebook page Protect Veteran’s Benefits. Military family law and issues are the primary issues causing the suicides. Because of that I come into contact with a lot of civilian family laws. This post isn't really to talk about the military side. I'm proud of our partnership with the National Parents Organization and I wanted to provide a perspective to everyone from a vantage point that I haven't seen anyone capable or willing to say out loud.

Now that most of the steam is out of the screaming and yelling about the Affordable Care Act, I thought maybe the more sane people could come out of hiding. Here are the facts, (civilian) Family law and health care are "suppose" to be State's rights. Placing a State right at the federal level can be done. However, it goes against the design laid out in the Constitution for rights and flow of authority. As a matter of fact, I spend a lot of time talking about the huge damage that was caused and major changes Reagan and Congress had to do in order to fix things. But first I want to say this.

Democrats, you're right. People need healthcare and there is no infrastructure for providing it and because States haven't been responsible, the Affordable Care Act is needed. But you need to respect the fact that placing a State right under the federal authority is dangerous. It's caused major problems in the past and those problems still haunt us today and why the suicide rate of soldiers and veterans is so high.

Republicans, you too are right. The Affordable Care Act is filled with problems and has huge proven potential to cause major if not catastrophic damage to the country. But you need to be respectful and act like Reagan did. He didn't just try to repeal it. It made one of the hugest changes to our federal government to safe guard against the damages.

Now, let's get to the meat of this issue and how to get the 6 Billion. The Child Support Enforcement Act was put in place because children from divorce were falling on federal welfare and so the system was designed to get parents to be held accountable to keep them from stressing those tax dollars. It is NOT for doing what was best for families or for children. The problem is State Child Support Enforcement agencies are paid based on the number of cases and how well they can collect.

This means states are rewarded for creating child support cases and NOT allowing parents to have joint custody. In cases of abuse this would be understandable and America had problems with this. But there have been huge successful changes to that. The US Department of Justice reports say 1% household have the "potential" to have abuse. This means they took the reported cases and then doubled, tripled or even quadrupled the number to get it that high. So why are the other cases which have 2 good parents always ruled that only one parent gets to have and see their child?

I know many people are going to say, what about all the spite and hate that starts a divorce which drives both even crazier. Well, that in and of itself is also a symptom as the system is actually designed to exacerbate all of that and make the parents incapable of cooperating. Joint custody has a huge impact on the lives of kids. It decides how educated they are, if they become criminals, become financially or even emotionally successful.

For decades, studies in social sciences have shown, children in joint custody awards receive better care, do better in school, and maintain better relationships with both parents. Children in joint custody awards do better regardless if parents are not exceptionally cooperative, without conflict, wealthy, well educated, or mutually enthusiastic about sharing the residential parenting for the children. The only bad thing is for the lawyers and the child support office budget

With joint custody, parents are less likely to end up back in courts and arguing. Family law lawyers know this and that jeopardizes repeat business for them. Every time a state works on the laws in this area the lawyers and the child support office staffs are the ONLY ones trying to fight it. They pretend to be experts in social science when the fact is; "legal ethics" practically requires a person to have no "moral ethics".

Their job is to protect their market space and ensure divorces end in the most carnage and generate repeat business. They will do anything they can to gain access to funds and ensure parents continue to fight in our courts for as long as possible. Ask yourself; would you ever give up fighting for your kids?

Now, none of this is to say we need to repeal the child support enforcement act. But the need for this program at a federal level is considerably insignificant. And now, not only is it dangerous to have that state right at the federal level, the growth of this program has created a system which rewards states and courts for destroying families, creating criminals and kids with no social conscious. We do need to start scaling that program back. The most the federal authority is needed in the end is the civil rights factors. Things like equal access to representation and equal treatment based on behavior and not stereotypes.

The budget on the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement is $16 billion. We don't have to get rid of the program to save $6 billion out of it. We just need to stop all the huge grants going to the state programs. States are going to have to be responsible for the ongoing and continued costs of the program. At which point you will start to see some huge changes. States won't be so eager to create a sole custody situation.

I would love to see judges punishing parents for NOT being cooperative. I'd like to see them forced to working out their differences outside of court. Where instead of punishing parents with monetary settlements or denying custody and visitation, they make the parent serve as a role model. Make the parent do community service. How well their kid turns out impacts the community and if they are not going to be good parents, then they can make it up to the community by doing service.

Now none of this is a perfect answer for every community. It doesn't mean cuts aren't needed anywhere else to work the budget. This is more a call to arms and asks everyone to take a second and stop to remember when we all said "kids come first".

Republicans, are you willing to get some State's rights back by making states responsible? Democrats, are you willing to let state pay for it so you have the money for the new Affordable Care Act? For everyone, are you willing to say, "Kids come first, even before politics?"

National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization

National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.

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#Childsupport, #States’rights, #Affordablecareact, #Democrats, #Republicans, #PresidentObama

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