NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

May 22, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The public. Those opposed to shared parenting just hate the public. We’ve seen that in the craven ways the Nebraska Court Administrator asserted the most bizarre and legally dubious claims for the sole purpose of denying the public the right to know how family court judges are trained with regard to shared custody and parenting time.

We now have those records and it’s easy to see why the anti-dad crowd would want to hide behind a veil of secrecy. The contents of the training materials offered to Nebraska judges were unrelentingly anti-father and, in the process, anti-child as well. Plus the depths to which state officials sank to keep judges from hearing pro-shared-parenting messages were truly disgraceful. The Director of Judicial Branch Education actually lied in writing to Dr. Linda Nielsen, claiming the organization didn’t have the money for her to travel to Nebraska to give a presentation, while simultaneously offering to pay anti-shared parenting advocate Robert Emery to do exactly that.

The main takeaway from those documents though is what we’ve long suspected – family court judges aren’t receiving accurate information about what parenting arrangements benefit kids. That’s true despite the fact that the sine qua non of family court orders is the best interest of children. So much for Nebraska.

Now we have another open records fiasco unfolding in North Dakota. As readers of this blog will remember, back in 2014, shared parenting advocates placed an initiative on the ballot that would have established a presumption of shared parenting in child custody cases. The vote was to occur in November. As late as August, and for the first time ever, an organization called “Keeping Kids First” came into being. Prior to that, it didn’t exist, had no officers and no funding.

But, quick as a wink, there it was, and pretty well funded at that. It seems the State Bar Association of North Dakota (SBAND) had ponied up some $70,000 in August to fund an “organization” whose sole purpose was to defeat the shared parenting initiative, Measure 6.

SBAND has already been sued for improper use of members’ dues because of its anti-shared parenting lobbying. Now it’s being sued for failure to produce records regarding Keeping Kids First.

Our old friend and staunch shared parenting advocate, Terry Brennan, asked SBAND and its director, Tony Weiler, to produce a variety of records on Keeping Kids First including emails among members (if members there were). So far, very little has been coughed up and Brennan’s suit against SBAND describes a theater of the absurd as Weiler becomes more and more embattled and defensive at the prospect of actually having to produce records to the public that are clearly – well – public records.

Brennan’s suit is a clear winner. The North Dakota statute on public records is entirely clear that SBAND is a public entity and the records sought are not subject to any exception to the general rule that the public has the right to know what its officials are doing. How much SBAND’s recalcitrance ends up costing bar members remains to be seen as does the full scope of SBAND’s antipathy for shared parenting, but, in the fullness of time, we will.

Isn’t the public’s right to know grand?

Stay tuned.




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.

#NorthDakota, #sharedparenting, #KeepingKidsFirst, #StateBarAssociationofNorthDakota

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