One year ago today, the first equal parenting law went into effect in Kentucky. Happy anniversary equal parenting!
At the time of passage, the bill was the very picture of popularity. It passed the Kentucky House by a vote of 81-2 and the Senate unanimously.
With a year’s worth of feedback, how’s equal parenting faring in the Bluegrass State? Numerous sources inform me that it’s doing very well, thank you.
First, it continues to be overwhelmingly popular with everyday folks. Legislators understood its popularity when they voted for the bill and that support continues. According to one poll, six out of seven people (84%) support the new law.
But, in the case of shared parenting, simple popularity isn’t enough for a law to be worthwhile. What’s been its effect on the process of divorce and custody cases? After all, one of the promises of shared parenting is that it will make the process easier, quicker, less expensive and less stressful for all concerned.
Family law attorney Carl Knochelmann told me this:
When parties know that shared parenting with an equal allocation of parenting will be the starting point in their custody case, it makes for faster and more equitable settlement of the custody issue. Since its inception, word has been spread throughout the community that each parent is entitled to equal child custody and entitled to equal parenting time.
One of the most important pluses for equal parenting laws is the prospect of reduced conflict between parents. When neither parent enters on divorce fearing that he/she will lose their kids, the primary reason parents fight disappears. With equal parenting, each one knows they’ll get meaningful time with their children and time enough apart from them to pursue their careers and other interests. No longer will fathers fall into a depression at the loss of their kids. No longer will mothers be saddled with so much childcare that the rest of their lives must take a back seat. And most importantly, the kids are better off than in any other parenting arrangement following divorce.
On that last note, licensed clinical social worker Jennifer Blum told me:
The law provides even footing for both parents in situations of divorce and custody. It promotes the psychosocial wellbeing of the child(ren) and supports the parent-child relationship. When the child(ren) win, everyone wins. We are building a better future and investing in our future generation with this law. I love it and it is innovative.
It looks like Kentuckians are reaping the benefits of shared parenting by settling their cases more readily than under the old winner-take-all system.
One more effect of the new law may just be its impact on other states. The Oldham Era newspaper quoted Speaker of the state House Pro Tem David Osborne thus:
“It’s interesting how many inquiries we’ve gotten from other states around the country who have been wanting to pass this type of legislation,” Osborne said. “We don’t get to be on the forefront of many things.”
Kentucky is definitely the crest of the equal parenting wave. One year of the equal parenting law there has produced unambiguously positive results.
NPO will keep readers up to date on how equal parenting continues to fare, but for now, the future looks bright.