January 14, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
By contrast to Risa Garon’s, Terry Brennan’s response to the Washington Post editorial opposing shared parenting in Maryland is a model of factual accuracy and cogency (Washington Post, 1/9/18). Too bad it was Garon instead of Brennan who served on the legislative commission tasked with making recommendations about reform of child custody and parenting time laws. Garon’s letter is misinformed in all the ways the commission was.
Where Garon claims there’s science to back her opposition to shared parenting laws, but cites none, Brennan cites the rich and varied research that supports them. What a concept. Of course Garon’s failure to provide a single citation is understandable, given that there is essentially no such research and what there is was so shoddily done no sensible opponent of shared parenting would risk giving readers access to it. Proponents of shared parenting aren’t so restricted as Brennan demonstrates.
In 2014, 110 world experts on child custody, child development, attachment and domestic violence endorsed a paper calling for shared parenting in family law… There are also more than 50 peer-reviewed papers supporting shared parenting.
See how easy that was? See how Brennan provided links to the research so readers can check his claims? See how Garon didn’t?
Then there are the issues Brennan raised that went completely ignored by Garon.
Citizens also support shared parenting, with poll after poll showing 70 percent favorability and women and men supporting it in roughly equal numbers.
Yes, when it comes to thwarting the will of the people, it doesn’t pay to let readers know you’re doing so. The simple fact is that the commission on which Garon served made recommendations that are dramatically at odds with the expressed wishes of Marylanders.
The off-stage drama being played out is the legislature pretending to take an even-handed approach to family court reform, but appointing a commission to look into the matter that was anything but unbiased. The result, that was written in stone long before the commission completed its work, was not only to deny two fit parents to children of divorce, but also to give the familiar digital salute to the people who pay the salaries of legislators. That’s not something they want to draw attention to, so, needless to say, Garon kept mum on the subject.
Then of course the Post editorial parroted the claim that a presumption of equal parenting constitutes a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Garon parroted it right back to them in her letter referring to shared parenting as “cookie-cutter” approach. It’s pure nonsense.
It is exceedingly rare to see a bill take a one-size-fits-all approach. Indeed, “shared parenting” is defined as allowing children a minimum of 35 percent time with each parent, with the remainder of the child’s time individualized to each case. I’m unaware of any bill without exceptions for issues such as abuse, neglect and abandonment.
Plus of course if anything is a “cookie-cutter” approach to parenting time, it’s the system we have now. People familiar with family law know the outcome of most cases by heart: every other weekend, with a couple of hours during the week, a few weeks in the summer and Christmas and Spring Break in alternating years. Opponents of shared parenting raise the “cookie-cutter” argument in the hope no one will notice the obvious contradiction.
Finally, there’s this:
Within Leading Women for Shared Parenting, psychologists, medical doctors, lawyers, elected officials, journalists, researchers, therapists, domestic-violence experts and other prominent women are promoting what’s right for children, as fatherlessness is an epidemic and family courts are a significant contributor.
Fatherlessness is indeed a major social problem; I argue that it’s our most pressing one. The anti-father bias of family courts is perhaps the single greatest contributor to fatherless children. It is because it routinely marginalizes fathers in the lives of their children, for no apparent reason. It is the point of shared parenting to allow both parents to play a meaningful role in their children’s upbringing post-divorce.
So what do opponents of shared parenting have to say about fatherlessness and how to stem its tide? Not one word. Garon didn’t and they never do. Where are their studies that demonstrate that the current system well serves children, parents and the public purse? Nowhere. There are none. The current system avidly promotes fatherlessness and opponents of shared parenting avidly promote the current system. They disgrace themselves. The Washington Post’s editors disgraced themselves and their publication.
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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.