March 20, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Compare and contrast, this article with the emails and other missives from North Dakota family lawyers and their backers in the State Bar Association of North Dakota (SBAND) about which I wrote yesterday (Valley News Live 3/15/17). The article is the transcript of an interview with Sean Kasson, a supporter of HB 1392 that would create a “rebuttable presumption that equal parenting time and residential responsibility promotes the best interests and welfare of the child.” “Equal parenting time and residential responsibility” is defined as having the child in the parent’s care for as close to 50% of the time as possible, but no less than 35%.
What jumps out at the reader of the lawyers’ emails is their undisguised reliance on the narrowest of elites to do their bidding at the expense of everyone else. In the emails, the lawyers take note of the fact that the bill passed the House Judiciary Committee by a unanimous vote and overwhelmingly (71 – 21) in the final House vote. The family lawyers and their friends in the domestic violence industry are hanging their hats on the bill’s being killed in committee by its chairman, Senator Kelly Armstrong.
What’s also clear in the emails is that the lawyers know that passage of the bill would adversely impact their incomes by reducing conflict in family courts. That someone other than them might be important literally never comes up in their emails. Not a single person writes a single word to the effect that, since shared parenting is beneficial to kids, passage of the bill would be in their interest.
In short, what comes through loudest is the lawyers’ reliance on the rule of elites over We the People and their own self-interest over that of kids.
Now, compare what Kasson has to say.
The biggest thing that I see here is that I have such a hard time understanding whether it be such strong opposition on a bill or hopefully it becomes a law that is to unite and promote better parent-child relationships. And the only thing that stands any reason or rationale is the amount of money that goes into this. If you want to think of it as almost like dog fighting, it's watching two parents fight over their kids and there is so much money involved. You hear about 25,000, 50,000. Even $100,000 that parents are fighting over their kids.
Promoting better parent-child relationships and not bankrupting parents in the divorce process are Kasson’s priorities and he strongly believes shared parenting to be the way to accomplish both. And of course he’s right, but of the two perspectives – Kasson’s or the lawyers – which would you choose? Which is the more respectable, the more likely to promote a healthy, fair and just society?
Kasson then adds a very important point, one I’ve made myself many times.
Sometimes [the parents are] battling over just who is slightly better.
Right. Child custody cases very often become a donnybrook over which parent can be said to be slightly better. So maybe Mom scores a 9.2 and Dad an 8.9. On such slender threads hang a child’s relationship with one of its parents. It’s a winner-take-all system that forces a judge to effectively remove one parent from the child’s life, to everyone’s detriment.
To say the least, that makes no sense. If one parent is truly unfit or dangerous to the child, then he/she should be marginalized in the child’s life at least until he/she can demonstrate appropriate improvement. But, the overwhelming majority of parents aren’t unfit or dangerous. They’re good enough parents and, far more importantly, their children have formed a bond with them, the severing of which causes untold injury to the child’s psyche.
And yet, the severing of that bond, usually with the father, is all but mandated by state laws that require judges to figure out who is the better parent and order custody and parenting time accordingly. That’s the opposite of acting in the child’s best interests and yet it’s public policy throughout the country.
Unsurprisingly, Kasson gets that.
The first of all, it's Paramount that the child's interest remains top priority. What this does is when you insert a presumption, it's reflective of the social science. Most people are good people, good parents. So why are we fighting about it? So instead of saying, prepare for battle and fight and see who wins, how about we come in and start at kind of a neutral plain and say, show me why fighting is necessary. That's the kind of one on one attorney-client conversation attention I would expect to see out of this if it were to pass and say this bill recognizes what's best for kids. It's for you two to focus on the parents and not fight. Please show me why one of your -- why your case is in the minority of cases that we should be going to court over this.
Kasson and the supporters of HB 1392 have science on their side and the best interests of children at heart. They want to make divorce and child custody easier, more reasonable and cheaper. They want to reduce parental conflict. What’s not to like? Contrast that with the lawyers who just want to make their next yacht payments.
And of course,
I would encourage those that are interested and to give support, visit web site we started, NDkidswin.org. On there you can find senator contact information. It will show the committee members. E-mail them, let them know your thoughts and hopefully support this bill.
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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