November 24, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Two days after the fact, I thought I’d take time to mention a few of the things for which we have to be thankful. By “we” of course I mean the movement for family court reform. ‘Tis the season, after all, and, since we have so much for which to be thankful, it would seem to be inappropriate to let it go by without a low bow and a sweeping doff of our plumed hats.
First can only be the fact that so many people have gotten our message. That children need both parents throughout their childhoods and even after is such an obvious truth that so many people know, if not consciously at least intuitively, has finally gained critical mass. Does anyone even argue otherwise? If they do, I certainly don’t see it. Yes, there are a few organizations fighting a rearguard action against equal parenting, but they invariably need to disguise the fact. So the DV establishment opposes shared parenting in the guise of opposing domestic violence and radical feminists do so in the guise of an imaginary “war on women.” Family lawyers claim that the system works just fine. More threadbare and patently untrue claims would be hard to imagine.
Second is the wave of science that grows larger and stronger with every passing year. All but invariably, that science demonstrates the necessity for shared parenting. According to some 62 studies, kids do better in shared parenting. Any expert providing testimony in court who has the least integrity must acknowledge not only that fact, but its poor relation – that essentially no science supports sole or primary custody when both parents are fit to care for their children.
Third is the press. Over the years, the press has slowly (too slowly) and often grudgingly gotten the message. Enough organizations, enough letters to the editor, enough shocking court cases, enough op-eds and other writings and enough agitation by countless people in every imaginable forum have moved the press to the point that we rarely read the type of scurrilous and unfounded anti-shared parenting nonsense that used to be commonplace.
Fourth, and somewhat related, is advertising. The days of the doofus dad aren’t yet gone with the wind, but the most common depiction of fathers in ads is now that of a caring and competent parent. On those rare occasions when an advertiser reverts to the form of the 1990s, it finds itself besieged by complaints pointing out the error. Often enough, the ad is either altered or withdrawn.
Fifth is the bankruptcy of the opposition. They have no facts on which to base their opposition to shared parenting, so they openly resort to the most transparent excuses. Family lawyers are the most influential opponents of shared parenting, but theirs so clearly grows out of naked self-interest that they’re becoming harder and harder to take seriously. When we passed sweeping shared parenting and alimony legislation in Florida, it was despite the state bar’s resistance and by overwhelming margins in both the House and Senate. The same was true more recently in Kentucky.
Sixth, speaking of Kentucky, the first bill ever to establish a presumption of shared parenting passed there and was signed into law last year. That’s not just a victory in one state; it should provide the impetus for passage of similar bills in other states. Why? Because all of the doom and gloom predicted by family lawyers will prove unfounded, knocking the props out from under their only argument against equal parenting. The National Parents Organization will, in due course, be tracking results in family courts in Kentucky and will report back on what we find. The lawyers’ claims of an upsurge in conflict, like the DV establishment’s claims of greater violence, will prove to be without merit, or such is my prediction. When that happens, what will those two opponents have to say to justify their unjustifiable opposition?
Finally, NPO itself has never been in better shape to help achieve the single most important of society’s goals – keeping both parents in children’s lives. We have a new and excellent executive director, greater backing than ever before, half a dozen new state affiliates and are poised to increase our social media presence. What’s not to like?
And what’s not to be thankful for?