February 16, 2016
By Ned Holstein, MD, MS, Founder and Acting Executive Director, National Parents Organization
Recent efforts in Missouri to advance shared parenting are a case study in how National Parents Organization can work hand-in-hand with your local group to apply pressure for changing the family courts.
A Missouri grandmother, Linda Reutzel, and others in Missouri have been working with their legislators to introduce a strong shared parenting bill. We reported those efforts in this article. on February 7.
And we analyzed the Missouri bill in another article here.
Then, just at the time the bill had its legislative hearing, National Parents Organization called in its PR firm, Proventus, Inc., to publicize the Missouri effort. The result has been over 30 articles in newspapers, TV and radio stations throughout the nation, all since February 8. The media coverage has included articles in The Washington Times, ABC News, San Francisco Chronicle, The Kansas City Star, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and stories aired by local NPR and CBS affiliates. Additionally, the media coverage has also spanned multiple outlets in Canada.
The news blitz since Feb. 8, has featured Cape Girardeau, MO grandmother Linda Reutzel, who chairs the Missouri chapter of NPO. The media has fastened on one of Linda’s best quotes, one that resonates with so many of our members. After her son was slapped with the usual every other weekend insult with his daughter, Linda wrote, "We walked out [of court] thinking, what just happened? Some guy who knows nothing about how close a daughter was to her daddy, to her mawmaw and everyone else, had the audacity to make us and her dad the visitors in her life." Doesn’t that capture exactly how so many of us have felt?
Some of the media also picked up on my quotes. “’Many of the parents who are warring, are warring precisely because what the courts set up is a fight, where they say one parent will win and the other parent will lose.’ In contrast, Holstein says when the expectation is that the judge will opt for shared custody, most responsible parents think, ‘Well, I guess I have to sit down and figure out how we're going to make this work.’”
Missouri’s child custody law currently requires judges to only award “significant, but not necessarily equal” periods of time with a child. The proposed legislation, HB 2055 and SB 964, would move the requirement to “approximate and reasonably equal” time for “fit and willing” parents.
Missouri residents who want to help these bills pass should email Linda Reutzel.