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.  

March 14, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

In this blog I’ve chronicled the many astonishing and utterly senseless efforts by Nebraska’s legislature, courts and various related entities to keep fathers out of children’s lives. The litany of those efforts is far too long to reprise here, but the most recent one is the state Supreme Court’s proposed rule to exempt the judiciary from disclosing to the public materials used to train them in the matters of child custody and parenting time.

Now, inquiring minds may want to know what could possibly be so threatening about a few written materials, power point presentations, etc. that do nothing more than acquaint judges with the science on those issues that could necessitate their being kept from the public. The Nebraska Open Records Act is quite broad, indicating the intention of the legislature that the public be generally informed about the doings of its government. So why should something as innocent as judicial training materials be an exception to the overarching rule of disclosure?

As I’ve written before, when those materials were finally made public, people who know something about the science on parenting time and children’s welfare were appalled. Much as we’d expected, the judges were intentionally being taught that which isn’t true. I say “intentionally” because the invitation to give a workshop issued to Professor Linda Nielsen, who would have taught the truth about the state of the science, was rescinded with the patently false claim that the state didn’t have the money to pay her plane fare and accommodations. Amazingly, it did have the money to pay the expenses of Dr. Robert Emery, longtime opponent of children having meaningful time with their fathers.

But, I now learn, it’s worse than that. Various Nebraska organizations and others have written to oppose the proposed new rule that would make secret judicial training materials. My previous blogs excoriating the judges’ bid to hide the truth from the public were, as it turns out, far too kind.

It turns out that Dr. Emery, in his presentation to Nebraska’s judges frankly misrepresented the research on parenting time. So, for example, Emery cited one study for the proposition that contact with fathers made “zero” difference to children’s psychological well-being, but that “father quality matters.” But one of the authors of that study explicitly disavowed Emery’s description saying,

“Nowhere did we suggest or find that fathers should not be spending time with their children or argue against joint custody in any way and it is a gross misrepresentation of the findings of the last 5 decades of research to say so.”

Scientists in academia essentially never use such blunt language, particularly about the behavior of their peers. Meanwhile, the author of another study cited by Emery echoed something I’ve said many times:

Contact without a good quality relationship is unlikely to be beneficial… But contact is a necessary condition for a high-quality relationship to develop and be maintained.

It’s one of the anti-dad crowd’s favorite claims that limiting parenting time to 20% or so for fathers is acceptable because “it’s not the quantity but the quality that’s important.” As the researcher points out, it’s all but impossible to establish or maintain a high-quality relationship with one’s child when seeing him/her every other weekend. Indeed, the science on the matter indicates that parenting time that’s so limited tends to degrade to nothing over time.

But Emery wasn’t through misrepresenting the science on shared parenting. Most of it he simply ignored. As one of the organizations opposing the proposed rule said,

Prof. Emery failed to disclose any of the extensive research, consisting of more than 40 studies that contradict his principle thesis. The vast majority of the mental health literature disagrees with his thesis…

This is the man who was specifically sought out to teach Nebraska’s judges about custody and parenting time. Stated simply, he’s not honest about the research and he conveys a starkly misleading image of it to the judiciary. There are many researchers the state could have chosen; Emery’s who they came up with.

He, and the mysterious process that substituted him for Prof. Nielsen, are precisely the reason why the public needs to know what judges are being taught about the all-important issue of child custody and parenting time.




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.

#judicialtraining, #child'sbestinterests, #RobertEmery, #Nebraska

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