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November 6, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

North Dakotans overwhelmingly rejected Measure 6 on Tuesday that would have established a presumption of equal parenting in child custody cases in the state. Although precise figures aren’t available, over 60% of voters voted ‘No’ on the measure.

That of course is a sad result. It’s a result that will harm the future children of divorce in the state. And it’s a result that will harm fathers and mothers, and further tear the fabric of North Dakota society.

Just why the people voted against Measure 6 is unknown. Just a month prior to the election, a survey conducted by the University of North Dakota College of Business Administration and Public Policy found that those in favor of Measure 6 outnumbered those opposed by a 45% - 30% margin.

Clearly, at least one of two things must be true. First, and the more likely of the two, is that spending by the State Bar Association of North Dakota in the four weeks leading up to Tuesday’s vote swayed voters. The second possibility is that some of those who said they’d vote ‘Yes’ got cold feet for reasons of their own. The latter has certainly been known to happen, but it’s impossible to know at this point whether it did on Tuesday.

If State Bar expenditures turned the tide against Measure 6, that can be easily remedied prior to the next election. As I’ve said before, the Bar’s funding of the anti-shared parenting effort was blatantly at odds with existing law as enunciated by the U.S. Supreme Court in various cases. Future such expenditures should be made impossible by resort to the injunction process. A single member of the legal profession practicing in North Dakota would be all it would take to file the appropriate lawsuit and obtain an injunction.

What are the lessons to be learned from this defeat? One may be that the process of initiative or referendum isn’t the silver bullet some supporters of equal parental rights might wish. It has its advantages, most notably the ability to acquaint the public with the nature of the opposition. Family attorneys are among the best enemies anyone could want and the fact that they make their considerable incomes by promoting conflict between parents over children gives them a uniquely bad odor to voters.

That’s presents a problem for those who oppose shared parenting they don’t face when lobbying state legislators.

I’m not yet ready to put aside the initiative process as a possible means of accomplishing shared parenting. It’s likely that problems with the wording of the initiative in North Dakota made ‘Yes’ votes more difficult to cast. And of course the dramatic imbalance in funding between the Pros and Cons made a huge difference.

For the next couple of years, it’s business as usual in North Dakota. But those of us who know the value of keeping two parents in children’s lives and the role lawyers and courts play in keeping children separate from one parent will keep trying, secure in the knowledge that the worm will turn.

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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.

#sharedparenting, #Measure6, #StateBarAssociationofNorthDakota, #initiative, #referendum

Comments   

-1 #5 Dad in shared custody for 11 years so farsnurirrt 2014-11-14 04:49
Perceptions always lag behind the times. If the majority of people think that fathers could never be equal parents to mothers, then it is certainly a false perceptions. Fathers are just as capable to be caregivers, nurturers, and teachers as mothers. The degree to which this occurs varies from one individual to another and it depends how motivated the father is and whether or not he is given the chance to prove himself. I am living proof of that. I have been taking care of my daughter ever since she was 2 months old. I took care of her needs in enfancy, throughout the toddler years, weaned her of the diaper, taught her to read, ride the bike, swim and have been almost single handidly responsible for all if not most of her playdates since she was 5 years old. Today, I'm still the one who arranges playdates for her, buy her clothes, do homework with her, and reach her new things. PRESUMPTION OF SHARED PARENTING IS FOR THE BEST INTEREST OF CHILDREN; THEY CAN GET LOVE AND ATNTN FROM BOTH
-1 #4 Hopeful futurejthurston 2014-11-13 17:24
Have faith everyone! While this is a defeat, it also reflects only where society and the voters are at the moment. For example, regarding the shared stories above (and thank you for them) they are parents who are quite old. My generation (1990s) more than ever believes in equality and the government staying out of our lives.

Once we become older and voting, we will be fighting for equity and sense. Change often takes the older generation dying out (literally and figuratively) since old people are usually fighting their "old" and gone battles and world views. Have hope! :)

P.s. For what it's worth, my parents are in their 50s and support at least the idea of shared parenting and mixed roles / responsibility. So, from my perspective, things are slowing changing
-1 #3 @ j - yes i believe that broad support for shared parenting is an illusionDr Darryl Jewett 2014-11-09 23:54
@ j - yes I believe that broad support for shared parenting is an illusion. and yes even my parents who are of average age into their eighties do not support shared parenting. They believe that the mother of my children deserve to have custody and excessive child support at the expense of my life and livelihood even though they never supported me at the same levels that they expect the mother of my children to be supported at. hypocrisy!!! and even if anyone does support shared parenting, it's mostly the legal, child support and domestic violence communities who stands to profit from all the litigation surrounding the shared parenting instead of an acrimonious divorce and child support. there is no legal solution to our dilemma. Plato more than 2,500 yrs ago wrote: responsible people don't need laws to be responsible and irresponsible people will always find ways to violate laws."
0 #2 Votes riggedKronk3 2014-11-06 17:39
Robert, look into the concept that the voting was rigged. If the majority of the people PRIOR to the election was one way, then different afterwards??? There are so many BILLIONS to be lost that these criminal judges and lawyers would stop at nothing to keep the status quo.
+1 #1 Yes, very sadjstiles 2014-11-06 15:36
Any exit polling on this? The demographics, especially gender and age, might be telling.

I think this fight is far more difficult than many believe. I'm personally skeptical when I see mention of broad support for shared parenting. I just don't see it. In fact my own parents (in their 70s) get angry if I bring it up. As far as I can tell the idea of shared parenting garners much more hostility than support.

Most people just don't believe fathers have that type of role to play in their kids' lives. Dads are seen as providers and role players, not an equal parent with mom. Even most father's advocates, like NPO, press the traditional roles in marriage. This position juxtaposed with the idea of shared parenting post-separation never made sense to me.

I doubt money had anything to do with this. There's a deep societal canyon - traditionalism, gynocentrism, feminism, "ladies first" - that needs to be breached before fathers have a chance on this.

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