February 21, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Nebraska continues to use every tactic it can think of to oppose shared parenting. The latest scandal may be its most debased effort yet. On April 15th of this year, Dr. Robert Emery will give a workshop in Omaha for the Nebraska Psychological Association and lawyers will receive six hours of continuing legal education credits for attending Emery’s presentation.
What’s the problem with that? After all, don’t we want lawyers to receive interdisciplinary training? Indeed, haven’t I repeatedly called for lawyers and judges to be trained in the social science of child well-being as it relates to parenting time? Of course I have and for the very good reason that lawyers and judges need to know what truly promotes the best interests of children.
The endorsement of Emery by the NPA, and offering CLE credit to lawyers, is so bad because he’s one of the few social scientists in the world who continues to resist the overwhelming weight of science in favor of shared parenting. He is an extreme outlier and therefore not the right person to instruct either psychologists or lawyers in what’s good for kids regarding parenting time following divorce or separation. Emery’s workshop strongly indicates the NPA’s and the legal establishment’s continued antipathy for children maintaining wholesome relationships with both parents post-divorce.
Unsurprisingly, Emery’s appearance has been questioned by certain Nebraska family lawyers. They point out for example that,
Dr. Emory (sic) is one of the few child development scholars who did not sign the 2014 consensus report on "Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children," which was published by the American Psychological Association and endorsed by 110 of the world's leading child development experts…The consensus report states quite clearly children do best with two heavily involved parents and discusses in detail the merits of shared parenting for children… Dr. Emory is also one of few scholars who has defended the heavily criticized work of a Ms. Jennifer Macintosh, who published a study of a small, non-representative test group with recommendations that young children not spend overnights with non-custodial parents until they are about four years of age. This study was roundly criticized by the research community for its shoddy methods. In addition, Dr. Emery doesn't believe in the existence of parental alienation and is against shared parenting for all families who go to court (they must not be able to handle it). On all of these issues, Mr. Emery's views are far outside the mainstream in the mental health community.
That’s pretty damning stuff, but it gets worse. Before I get to that though, I wonder who else the legal establishment has invited to speak on parenting issues or has offered CLE credit for doing so. We know that Dr. Linda Nielsen, a staunch shared parenting advocate, was once asked to lecture and then disinvited without explanation. When Nielsen inquired, she was told there was a financial issue. She then offered to speak for free and pay her own way, but the invitation was never re-offered.
And of course we know that the Nebraska State Bar Association has been willing to violate the U.S. Constitution in order to lobby against shared parenting bills. Plus, at least one past bar president openly lied about the contents of a shared parenting bill.
That and more tells me that Emery’s workshop and the offer of CLE credit are no coincidence, but part of a pattern of antipathy for shared parenting. The legal establishment appears willing to stoop to anything to bias its members against children having meaningful relationships with both parents post-divorce. Now the psychological association is getting into the act.
But, as I mentioned, it gets worse. Emery was placed on probation by the Virginia Board of Psychology. He was ordered to have his practice of psychology supervised by another psychologist and was required to undergo psychological evaluation himself by a clinical psychologist. The reason for all that was a complaint to the Board by one of his female patients who complained that Emery touched her inappropriately, disclosed to her psychological issues of his own and harassed her by telephone and email. Emery admitted to at least some of that.
This is the man about whose opinions on children’s welfare the Nebraska Psychological Association and the legal establishment are so enthusiastic. Other social scientists who are in the mainstream of their disciplines regarding shared parenting? Not so much. Indeed, not at all.
Many times I’ve wondered how family lawyers and judges are trained regarding the most important thing they do – establishing post-divorce parenting arrangements for kids. Amazingly, Nebraska, other states and the U.K. guard that information as if it affects national security. So far, many people have tried to find out what that training consists of, but no one has succeeded. What have those various organizations got to hide?
The endorsement – tacit and otherwise - of Emery not only gives us a glimpse of what is being taught and who’s teaching it, but why those organizations are so wary about our finding out.
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