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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.  

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

Is the Lansing State Journal taking a stand in favor of shared parenting? It published NPO’s Linda Wright’s fine piece supporting HB 4691 that would create a presumption of shared parenting. Now it’s published this one by Karl Dersch who, like Wright, nails the issues (Lansing State Journal, 11/19/17).

Best of all, Dersch goes beyond the many benefits of shared parenting to the family members involved in a divorce and points out the positive impact shared parenting would have on society at large. As I’ve said many times, an array of social ills is associated with fatherlessness and yet family courts routinely remove fathers from meaningful roles in their children’s lives. That’s bad for kids, bad for mothers, bad for fathers and bad for society generally. Dersch gets it.

What if there was State legislation that could significantly reduce every major social ill in our state?

One bill that could reduce crime, dropout rates, substance abuse, incarceration rates, child abuse, youth suicides, homeless children, poverty and even divorce.

Imagine if one bill could do all that and it didn’t cost taxpayers a dime. In fact, it saved taxpayers money.

Of course, there is such a bill – HB 4691. Its enactment into law would strike at the heart of what I (and Dersch) have concluded to be the single most important social problem we have – fatherlessness. Peel back the skin of almost any social issue and underneath you’ll find fatherlessness festering.

Our biggest domestic problem is the breakdown of the family, i.e. fatherlessness. Overwhelming evidence proves the benefits of shared parenting. Complimentary to that are copious statistics illustrating the detriment to fatherless children.

Statistically, there is no single better predictor of negative outcomes for children than to have been raised by a single mother. Study after study and mountains of irrefutable statistical data all confirm that what is actually in a child’s best interest is two parents.

Around 72% of teenage murderers, 60% of rapists, 71% of high school drop outs, 90% of homeless and runaway children and 75% of teen suicides all come from single-mother households.

Compared to girls raised by both parents, the daughters of single mothers are significantly more likely to become pregnant before marriage, marry as teenagers, and dissolve their own marriages.

The common denominator is absence of Dad.

Opponents of shared parenting, like family lawyer John Schaefer, never get around to mentioning any of the above. For them, cutting Dad out of a child’s life is perfectly fine as long as the system that does so exacerbates conflict between parents that lawyers readily convert into cash. But the multiple detriments of fatherlessness never cross their minds.

Much like North Dakota’s, data out of Michigan demonstrate that, whether a child gets to maintain a relationship with his/her father when the adults split up is more a matter of which judge hears the case than the child’s “best interests.”

An analysis of statewide data show the likelihood of being awarded joint custody has little relation to the best interest of the child factors but rather is a function of which judge presides over the case.

The same fact patterns can yield wildly different outcomes dependent upon the presiding judge. Joint custody determinations vary from 15% to 100% in Michigan, depending on the county.

Needless to say, those wild fluctuations in the ordering of shared parenting from one court to another have nothing to do with parents or their ability to care for their children and everything to do with judicial bias, usually of the pro-mother/anti-father variety. Dersch gets it right about what that means for society and the economy.

A kid raised without a dad is five times more likely to be poor, five times more likely to commit crimes, nine times more likely to drop out of school, and twenty times more likely to end up incarcerated. Imagine how much better off our children would be if the Family Courts just stopped taking away their Dads.

Some people aren’t good parents. Some don’t want to be parents at all, even when they are. The legal system can’t make bad parents good ones; it can’t inculcate the desire to be a parent in one who doesn’t have that desire. But the overwhelming majority of parents fall into neither category. Most parents love and want to care for their children. Indeed, most parents see that as perhaps their highest calling, the thing that most shapes who they are.

The least we can ask of the legal system is that it get out of the way of that legitimate desire by the huge majority of parents to simply be the best parents they can be without interference. Karl Dersch gets that. Maybe Michigan’s legislature will too.

 

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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.

#sharedparenting, #Michigan, #HB4691, #fatherlessness

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