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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.  

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December 2, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

When shared parenting bills come before state legislatures, members are usually faced with opposition from two groups – family lawyers and gender feminist groups.  As I’ve written many times, their arguments don’t make sense.  They recycle old, worn-out tropes, all of which have been debunked countless times.  The simple truth is that equal parenting is best for kids and good for both mothers and fathers as well.  Large amounts of social science demonstrate the fact and, faced with that, opponents arrive at the legislative battlefield unarmed.  Briefly, they have no argument on the merits to make.

But, since the issue before any given legislator is whether to vote for or against a shared parenting bill, there’s always another consideration – how will it affect him/her at the polls?  Now, we all know that elected officials would prefer to do the right thing in any given situation, not just about shared parenting.  But in the mental struggle between doing the right thing and getting re-elected, often enough, the latter prevails. 

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November 29, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The Washington Post is at it again (Washington Post, 11/26/18).  In a bid to further erode the institution of the family, the WaPo offers an article entitled “UN Finds Deadliest Place for Women is Their Home.”  The only problem with that headline is that the UN did no such thing.  Indeed, the intellectual distance between the headline and the UN study on which it pretends to report tends to produce vertigo in the reader.  It’s a complete misrepresentation.

What the UN study actually reports on is the number of women and girls killed each year in domestic violence incidents worldwide.  That number is about 50,000.  This being the UN, the number of men killed in DV incidents goes unmentioned.

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November 28, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

new study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science finds bias in judges’ rulings in child custody cases (Science Daily, 4/3/18).  Now, it’s worthwhile to note that this is a study, not of judicial behavior in the courtroom in actual cases, but in hypothetical ones.  Still, the methodology of the case suggests the pro-mother/anti-father bias we’ve come to know all too well.

The study was conducted by Andrea Miller, who’s an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  Miller accomplished one amazing thing; she got 500 state court judges to take part in the study.  They did so anonymously due to the fact that the results could be embarrassing for the state and the judiciary thereof.  So we don’t even know which state the study took place in.  Miller also received the participation of 500 lay people.

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November 26, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Canada is not poised to make meaningful change to its divorce and custody laws.  As I mentioned here, it’s poised only to make trivial changes to the wording of existing statutes.  And Barbara Kay isn’t happy about it (Post Millennial, 11/23/18).

Kay of course has for many years been a redoubtable champion of equal parenting, so, when the Canadian Parliament once again simply punts the issue, she’s right to complain.  So is everyone else in the country.  After all, as Kay points out, it’s now been 20 years since the task force specifically appointed to make recommendations for reform did so.  And in those 20 years, essentially nothing has been done.

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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.

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All of us at National Parents Organization wish you and your family a joyous Thanksgiving holiday!

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Linda Valdez is on to something (Arizona Republic, 11/19/18).  Arizona’s child protective agency, the Department of Child Safety seems to be hoping no one will notice a particular bit of information.  More specifically, it hopes We the People won’t notice that an important bit of information is missing from the reams of data DCS routinely maintains.

The state’s legislature requires that DCS go to court and get a judge’s order before it removes a child from its parents.  That of course is standard procedure throughout the country.  What’s also standard procedure is that states give their CPS authorities an out.  If the child is in imminent danger, then the state can request an emergency hearing based on “exigent circumstances.”

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November 19, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

This continues my response to the National Review article on adoption that I began yesterday (National Review, 11/17/18).  November is National Adoption Month, hence the NR piece.

As I said yesterday, all 14 contributors to the article enthusiastically promote adoption and for the best of reasons.  Many, many children worldwide don’t have parents or close relatives to care for them.  They desperately need good, loving homes and only adoption can provide them.  Adoptive parents are usually motivated to meet that desperate need.  Good for them.

But, however well-intentioned the writers of the NR piece are, there’s a lot they don’t know about the laws on adoption and its practice.  They see the bright side of adoption, but not the dark.  And it’s that dark side that tends strongly to thwart their own good intentions and the good that adoption can do.

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November 18, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The National Review has this article on adoption (National Review, 11/17/18).  Actually, it’s less of an article than a compendium of short pieces by people with various connections to and thoughts on adoption, foster care, etc.  Adoptive parents and adults who were adopted as kids chime in with religious leaders, law professors and the like.  It’s often moving, partly because kids needing adoption are in such precarious positions and those who adopt often do so out of such a strong sense of love and generosity.

And yet, out of the 14 people who contributed to the article, not one knows the dark underbelly of the adoption system in this country.  Each person enthusiastically endorses adoption for all the obvious reasons.  Their statements should be read and internalized.  These are human beings who want to do good for children in need.  Many of them already have and their stories are important.

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November 16, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The U.K. finds itself in the same pickle as we do in the U.S (The Independent, 11/9/18).

That pickle is the one in which authorities charged with protecting children have far too little money with which to do the job.  There are too many cases and too few caseworkers to handle them.  And the number of cases is increasing, pointing to a potential crisis in the years to come.

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November 15, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The fight for shared parenting in Michigan will be heating up again  in the coming months and this article by NPO’s Linda Wright reprinted in a blog is the opening salvo (KiddieMom, 11/13/18).  Actually, that may have come on Tuesday, November 6, i.e. Election Day, when Jim Runestad won his bid for a state senate seat.  Runestad of course was the force responsible for SB 4691 that would establish a presumption of equal parenting following divorce or separation.

Needless to say, Wright’s piece is, shall we say, right on.

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

It’s hard to know how to feel about this CNN piece on fathers and the family court system (CNN, 11/7/18).  On one hand, the writer seems to be sincere about advising men, so he consults family court experts – a lawyer, a judge and a mental health expert – for their tips.  On the other hand, it’s a piece that could have been written 40 years ago, entirely lacking in the long-established realities fathers face.  It’s like writer Thom Patterson is a latter-day Rip Van Winkle, newly awakened from a long, long sleep.

So he seems to want us to believe that fathers haven’t been complaining about their treatment in family courts for those four decades.

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November 12, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Usually, advice columnist Carolyn Hax is the very soul of good sense.  She rarely misinforms, misleads or misadvises a letter writer.  This, however, is an exception (Seattle Times, 11/7/18).  Hax’s inquirer signs herself “Wannabe Mom, Not Wannabe Wife,” a label that, strangely enough, is only tangentially related to her, her situation and her question.

WMNWW’s question – whether she should, without a partner, adopt a child - could be right out of the 1990s.  That was a time when the “Single Mothers by Choice” movement was in flower.  The women of that movement were intentionally giving birth to or adopting children without the involvement of a man.  It was all portrayed as terribly “courageous” on their part and few people raised their voices to challenge them.  One of course was Vice President Dan Quayle who famously questioned whether TV character Murphy Brown (Candace Bergen) should have been depicted as having a child without a father.  Quayle pointed out that doing so shouldn’t be considered “just another lifestyle choice.”

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November 11, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Houston Juvenile Court Judge Michael Schneider has once again unsheathed his judicial sword (Houston Chronicle, 11/9/18).  And once again, Child Protective Services must yield. 

I’ve written before about Schneider.  He shows every indication of being a judge who’s bent on educating CPS caseworkers and their supervisors about how to do their jobs within the confines of statutory and constitutional law.  Several years ago, when caseworkers demanded an emergency hearing because, according to them, a child was in such danger that regular notice couldn’t be given to its parents, Schneider acquiesced.  But, on learning that no such emergency had occurred, he took the unusual step of ordering the pair to write essays demonstrating that they understood parents’ constitutional rights.

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November 9, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

In my post yesterday, I dealt with yet another strange and badly researched article that seeks to cast aspersions on the Family Bridges program.  Family Bridges is a four-day workshop that attempts to reverse the process of parental alienation, usually in kids with the most severe form of alienation.  It’s been around for 20 years and logged an astonishing record of success.  That success is both anecdotal, as I’ve reported before, and scientific.  Dr. Richard Warshak has conducted two studies of its efficacy and found the program highly successful at reintegrating children with their targeted parents.  No such program could hope to be 100% successful and Family Bridges doesn’t hit that mark, but, all things considered, it seems to work well.  That’s why countless judges, custody evaluators and others have referred/recommended alienated children and their targeted parents to the program over the years.

But that success doesn’t keep incurious, mendacious and virulently anti-dad “journalists” from attacking FB anyway.  Such a piece was the NBC Bay Area one I discussed yesterday.

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November 7, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

In Colorado, and seemingly under the threat of a state Court of Appeals decision, state child welfare agencies are starting to try to locate fathers when mothers are charged with child abuse or neglect (Colorado Sun, 11/5/18).  That of course is a good thing, but the new development fairly screams “Why’d it take so long?”

As I’ve written before, back in 2006, the Urban Institute did a study that found that, in over half of cases in which the father’s identity was known, CPS agencies made no effort to locate him.  They preferred foster care to father care despite the fact that the former costs the state significant sums of money and the latter little or nothing.

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November 8, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

As hit pieces that target the Family Bridges program go, this is one of the most benign and professional (NBC Bay Area, 11/2/18).  Don’t get me wrong, its anti-FB biases are abundantly clear and it’s scandalously badly researched (if it’s researched at all), but even so it’s better than the others.  For example, it quotes Linda Gottlieb who’s that rarest of birds in articles of this type, an expert who actually knows what she’s talking about.  That alone puts it a cut above the other nonsense we read.

The NBC Bay Area piece takes a strange tack in its assault on Family Bridges.  The writers (yes, there are five of them) first located three kids who were deemed alienated by the judges in their parents’ custody cases, went through the FB workshop and are willing to say negative and in some cases untrue things about it.  Much of the piece then consists of quotations from the three who are all now young adults.  For example,

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November 5, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Hi everyone.  It’s your intrepid correspondent again, this time breathlessly bringing you the latest on the most important event of the past two years - the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie divorce and custody case (New Idea, 11/1/18).  Yes, wars are being fought, hurricanes are laying waste to entire communities and the Four Horsemen prowl the countryside, but a couple of celebrities are divorcing, so all must drop what they’re doing and take heed.

It seems that Brad has, at least for now, taken the lead in the custody sweepstakes.  The judge appointed a custody evaluator, one Dr. Stan Katz, who has, in due course, interviewed all and sundry – the parents, the kids, relatives and others.  And it turns out the kids prefer his Bradness to living with Angie.

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November 4, 2018 by Rober Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

I suppose this is a case of “anything the U.S. can do, Australia can do … too.”

Three men have been arrested in New South Wales and a woman is sought for arrest in connection with a long-term conspiracy to kidnap and hide children who the conspirators believe have been wrongly taken from their mothers or who are the subjects of joint custody orders.  The group appears to be an extension of the “protective mother” movement.  Put simply, when a mother claims a father who’s gotten some form of custody is abusive, the group stands ready to abduct and hide the child.

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November 2, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

In the case of In Re the Adoption of L.G.K., both the trial and appellate courts reached a just decision.  I wish I thought it was the correct legal decision and that the case won’t be overturned by the Indiana Supreme Court. 

The child’s father, G.C. and her mother, J.K. were never married, but had a sexual relationship for about 10 months, from December, 2013 to October, 2014.  In December, 2014, J.K. told G.C. that she was pregnant.  G.C. took little part in her pregnancy or childbirth, but both his parents did.  Once L.G.K. was born though, G.C. moved in with J.K. and took an active part in her care.  She soon was calling him “Dad” and his parents “Granny” and “Poppy.”  He and J.K. separated, but he continued caring for his daughter, paid support to J.K. and had sole care of the child at certain times.

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November 1, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

As of mid-October, we have the latest analysis of the Family Bridges workshop that seeks to repair the relationships between severely alienated children and their targeted parents.  Previous studies of Family Bridges strongly suggested positive results of the program along with positive attitudes of its participants.  The latest study is larger and a more comprehensive examination of both.

It must be noted that the study was conducted by Prof. Richard Warshak who originated the concepts put into practice by Family Bridges.  That said, Warshak has had no professional, legal or financial connection either to Family Bridges itself or to the professionals who conduct its workshops.

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October 31, 2018 by Don Hubin, Ph.D., Chair, Ohio Affiliate and Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

National Parents Organization’s groundbreaking study of Ohio’s domestic relations courts’ standard parenting time guidelines has provoked a response for the Ohio Association of Domestic Relations Judges (OADRJ).

Normally, it would be appropriate to thank the judges for reviewing the NPO Ohio Parenting Time Report, judiciously weighing the points made in the report, and thoughtfully responding. Unfortunately, there is little evidence that the judges actually read, or at least read carefully, the NPO report. Indeed, there is clear evidence that they didn’t read, or at least didn’t understand, the report.

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October 28, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The case of Teagan Batstone may come to a close soon.  Teagan was the little Canadian girl who was killed by her mother, Lisa Batstone, back in December, 2014.  Lisa Batstone was apprehended when she backed her car into a ditch and Teagan’s body was found in its trunk.  The child was eight years old.

Just why it’s taken almost four years to bring Lisa to trial is anyone’s guess.  Mental health professionals said she was fit to stand trial shortly after her arrest, but so far no trial has taken place.  The latest proceeding is a one in which the judge must determine whether Lisa’s statements to various people at the scene and at the hospital later are admissible in her trial for Teagan’s death (Abbotsford News, 10/16/18).

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October 26, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

#BelieveTheWoman took another body blow recently (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 10/17/18).  As many recall, U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, D – MN, was accused back in August by his former girlfriend, Karen Monahan, of physical and emotional abuse against her.  He denies her allegations, but they spurred the Star Tribune and Alpha Media to seek records from his divorce from his wife Kim in 2012.  Presumably, both media outlets sought information to the effect that Ellison is an abuser.

Both Ellison and his ex-wife opposed unsealing the divorce file (why was it sealed in the first place?) citing privacy concerns.  But a judge ordered its contents made public.  What they revealed is that it wasn’t Ellison, but his ex who was the abuser.

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