June 23, 2016
By Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
In a huge boost to the Massachusetts shared parenting bill, the Boston Globe has published this endorsement of H 4107 (Boston Globe, 6/20/16).
Massachusetts’ child custody laws are outdated. The Child-Centered Family Law bill acknowledges a widely held belief that isn’t always reflected in court orders: Children benefit from spending significant time with both parents. The legislation would encourage family-court judges to grant parents shared custody, with a child spending at least one-third of the time with each parent. The law would affect only the small portion of divorcing couples who rely on the courts for a custody agreement after negotiations or mediation fails — but those cases often drag on for months or years, causing irreparable damage to all involved.
Together with other important stakeholders, the National Parents Organization, and particularly our Chairman, Ned Holstein, have been instrumental in backing this bill. The bill is opposed mostly by family lawyers, an all too common phenomenon. Just two months ago, we saw the same process at work in Florida in which family lawyers, almost alone, were implacably opposed to fairly modest reform of laws that, as the Globe describes H 4107, are outdated.
The family law bar managed to alter the terms of family law reform in the Bay State so significantly that NPO and other backers were originally forced to withdraw support. But Holstein rallied those supporting reform who responded with a deluge of emails and phone calls to legislators. That managed to re-alter the bill so that it would be, if not ideal, at least acceptable.
So far though, there’s been no action on H 4107, but the scuttlebutt is that it has enough support in the House to pass. Senate backing is more problematical, but passage still looks possible.
So it’s time to contact your House member and senator and demand passage of H 4107. For far too long, Massachusetts has ignored the rights of children to meaningful relationships with both parents. It’s past time for that to change. H 4107 isn’t the last word on family court reform, but it’s the first step.
This year’s legislative session ends July 30th, so that means we must have action on this important bill now. As the Globe said,
With the Legislature racing to finish its business before the current session ends, some bills are bound to fall by the wayside — which is where many of them belong. But other pieces of pending legislation shouldn’t get lost in the scramble.
By all means, call or email your elected official in the state legislature and urge him/her to support H 4107. And write a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe supporting their positive editorial. If we criticize them when they’re wrong, we need to support them when they’re right.