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Michigan--As I've previously noted, Michigan shared parenting groups have been fighting to pass HB 4564, a shared parenting bill, and have gained considerable support in the process. Several Michigan shared parenting advocacy groups, including Dads and Moms of Michigan, an affiliate of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children, testified in the Michigan House Judiciary Committee's May 7 testimony-only hearing. To learn more about the shared parenting bill, see my recent co-authored column, Shared Parenting Bill Will Help Michigan"s Kids, Overburdened Court System (Oakland Press, 5/5/08), or click here. This week the Oakland Press' editorial board wrote an excellent editorial in support of the bill. In Legislature must quit stalling parenting bill (6/4/08), they write:
A bill that exemplifies many traditionally American values - such as fair play, equal rights and family - is being held up in the state Legislature for all the wrong reasons. House Bill 4564 sits in the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Southfield Democrat Rep. Paul Condino. It doesn't appear to be going anywhere, and that's a shame. The bill is really an attempt to correct an injustice that has existed in our nation for decades. The bill sets into law a reasonable request - it calls for equal parenting time for fit parents.... It's a shame a bill like this is needed. Historically, fathers have been on the short end in court cases involving custody and visitation when the parents divorce. The best interest of the child should always be the top priority, but too often that leaves fathers out of the equation. Judges have expressed concern that the bill may take away some of their judicial discretion. In fact, among the two groups that oppose the bill are the Michigan National Organization for Women and the State Bar of Michigan, which have submitted arguments against it, saying mandatory joint custody takes discretion away from the judge and also may not be in the best interest of the child. But we believe the excuse is weak. We can't understand why these groups would oppose the bills. If we didn't know any better, we'd say the bar association was more concerned about maintaining long custodial court battles and the high attorney fees that accompany them. As for NOW, we thought it was an equal rights organization, but it appears the only "equal rights" they're concerned about is for women. True, women should be their primary concern, but you would think that they would favor what's fair for everyone. Reverse discrimination and winning your rights at the expense of someone else is a biased, self-righteous and self-centered position to take. Here, the prejudice is against fathers and their rights... We think anything that helps good fathers stay "good dads" is worth passing. If the law has to be tweaked so that some judges don't feel so put upon, then make the necessary changes. But it's also time the state Legislature stood up for fathers. Dads have some rights, too.
Read the full editorial here. To write a Letter to the Editor of the Oakland Press in praise of this editorial, click on [email protected].

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