June 7, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Having dispensed with Hilary Towers’ nonsense published by the Institute for Family Studies, I can now return to the good news – Day Two of the International Conference on Shared Parenting. The conference was a feel-good moment for, I think, everyone there. The sense that we’re on the right track was solidified when Dr. Sanford Braver, one of the most prominent of all researchers in the field of child custody and parenting time, told activists there that it’s “just a matter of time before this (shared parenting) penetrates” and to “keep fighting because you’re winning.” Powerful encouragement indeed.
Day Two began with Australian law professor and researcher Patrick Parkinson speaking on relocations by one parent. He’s studied the matter and found that almost invariably, the parent wanting to move is the mother. In the cases Parkinson studied, relocation was approved by the court in 60% of cases. That’s true despite the fact that it meant the loss to the child of friends and moving to a different school and of course the move dealt a serious (sometimes fatal) blow to the child’s relationship with his/her father. Of those whose relocation request was denied, over half said it was better that they hadn’t moved.
Interestingly, of the mothers who weren’t allowed to move, almost all got on with their lives and had fairly positive attitudes about the situation with their children and exes. Courts might want to think about that when considering requests to relocate.
German attorney Hildegund Sunderhauf had been a member of the German Association of Women Lawyers, a feminist group, for 20 years when she wrote the only monograph in Germany to date on shared parenting. She was thrown out of the organization. Her take on the German feminist stance on child custody is that it’s morphed over the years. At first, German feminists agitated for men to do more childcare so mothers could do more paid work. Now it espouses “mothers as owners of children getting paid as much as possible by fathers.”
In Germany, courts overwhelmingly give primary custody to mothers, with only about 13.9% of court orders being for shared parenting. As in the United States, courts there are told by psychologists that conflict negates joint physical custody.
Sunderhauf’s view is that the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child guarantee the rights of children to relationships with both parents.
Sweden’s Malin Bergstrom is at work on a longitudinal study of children of shared parenting. There, a strong society-wide understanding of the need of children for both parents means shared parenting is becoming the norm. Almost 30% of separated parents have 50/50 parenting time arrangements.
As in her earlier work, Bergstrom and colleagues are finding that nuclear families are best for children, followed closely by shared parenting arrangements and more distantly by primary parenting and, last of all, sole parenting. The children in sole care have almost twice the physical and mental health problems as do those in shared care.
Michael Lamb took on the issue of overnights for young children with their fathers. He pointed out that literally hundreds of studies demonstrate that parental separation can be hard on children or they can adjust reasonably well. The critical factor in which result obtains is whether the child maintains healthy relationships with both parents. If so, the child tends to be better off.
As to overnights, even the youngest kids manage their separation from one attachment figure (Mom) as long as they’re with another attachment figure (Dad). If Mom leaves little Andy or Jenny with someone else, say, a boyfriend, a nanny, her boyfriend’s mother, etc., as Australian journalist Bettina Arndt recently pointed out often occurs, that’s when the infant or toddler can truly be traumatized. When the child’s with Dad, there’s no problem. Indeed, there’s probably a benefit.
I won’t go into Lamb’s total destruction of the studies that oppose overnights for infants and toddlers with their dads. I’ve written a lot about that research and its astonishing weakness and, in some cases, frank dishonesty, so I won’t reprise Lamb’s presentation on that topic here. Suffice it to say that I’ve never witnessed a more thoroughgoing demolition of any intellectual effort. Picture the razing of a building with explosives and you get the idea.
Importantly, Lamb expressed the opinion I’ve voiced countless times – that the education of judges in the science on shared parenting is the best thing we can do to make the needed changes in the way parenting time is ordered.
So much for the plenary sessions. I’ll go into the panel discussions another time.
(International Conference on Shared Parenting Blogs
International Conference on Shared Parenting a Huge Success! (06-01-2017)
Fabulous Conference Supports Shared Parenting (06-01-2017)
International Conference on Shared Parenting, Day One (06-02-2017)
International Conference on Shared Parenting: Day Two (06-07-2017))
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.