September 10, 2019 by Ginger Gentile, Deputy Executive Director of the National Parents Organization
In 2014, the National Parents Organization created a report card grading each state on their shared parenting guidelines. Most states got a C or below. The report card looked at statutes- not outcomes. It was also rated on whether or not the guidelines encouraged or enforced shared parenting (when the courts assume that both parents have equal rights and responsibilities after divorce or separation). This report card was not only a useful tool for activists, it also generated national media coverage. On September 18th, 2019, we will be announcing our new report card in a press conference in New York City.
Some states have improved. Most notably, Kentucky, who under the leadership of Matt Hale and the local NPO chapter passed the ONLY default shared parenting law in the US. Yes, you read that correctly! As late as 2018, no states had a law that said 50/50 was the starting point. And this is crazy considering that support for shared parenting polls as high as 87%. Also, Kentucky courts released finding that the nation's first true shared parenting law worked! Domestic violence claims dropped. Divorce filings dropped by 11%.
As quoted in the Kentucky Courier Journal, Alexandra Beckman said, “It’s common sense that shared parenting laws lessen parental conflict. As a domestic violence survivor who speaks with alienated mothers every day, I can personally state that Kentucky’s Shared Parenting Law is lessening domestic violence.” Family court judge and Child Support Commission Chair Lucinda Masterton stated a similar opinion about parental fighting in general. “We’ve had a lot fewer — since the (shared parenting) statute, we’ve had a lot fewer disagreements about parenting time.”
The National Parents Organization is soon going to announce new state affiliates as well as a modern, efficient strategy to ensure that the majority of states have shared parenting passed within the next five years. Our children are being traumatized by emotionally and financially costly custody battles. Shared parenting not only reduces stress but also reduces violence and should be the cornerstone of all child welfare programs. If you are interested in being part of the solution, please reach out to us if you are a researcher who wants to share studies or data, join an affiliate, or start a new one. Together, we can end custody battles once and for all!