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September 3, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Today’s the day we celebrate the contributions of the men and women who work every day to make everyone’s life easier, better, fuller and safer. We probably should do it more often.

A few weeks ago I watched a short Jordan Peterson video in which he pointed out to his interlocutor how fantastically complicated our economic system is. For us consumers to get, say, a fresh head of lettuce in a super market involves so many different moving parts of the economy as to boggle the mind. The fields have to produce, the produce needs to be harvested at the right time, it must be inspected, cleaned and packaged, put on a truck that functions and whose refrigeration system does as well. The driver has to drive the truck to market, there must be fuel for the truck at a place where it’s needed, the produce needs to be unloaded and displayed in a refrigerated area of the store. And of course every single aspect of the system I just mentioned has its own massively complex support system. For example the crude oil that’s the basis of the diesel fuel has to be extracted, refined, etc. Electrical systems have to be maintained and function properly. Etc., etc.

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

Continuing from Friday with the latest Bolch fiasco.

Bolch pretends that, since money is fungible, there’s no way we can ascertain what a custodial parent is spending her child support money on. Of course if we were to take seriously the problem many fathers have with feeling their money doesn’t go to the child but to the mother who wants nothing to do with them except the bi-weekly check, we could establish as system much like our food stamp one. That is, we could denominate certain child-specific items (e.g. diapers) that could be bought with a child support debit card and other items (e.g. alcohol) that couldn’t be.

That would solve the problem at least for the most part. But Bolch is convinced the only way we can conclude that child support isn’t going to the child is if this happens:

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August 31, 2018 by Robert Frabklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

No sooner do I deal with the ignorance of Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell on the subject of child support than our old friend and punching bag John Bolch chimes in on the same subject (Marilyn Stowe Blog, 8/28/18). Unsurprisingly, the results are much the same. In his invariable zeal to support the status quo and oppose fathers legitimate interests, Bolch gets much wrong about his chosen topic. That said though, I must admit that his piece is better than Mitchell’s. He actually gets a fact or two correct and raises a coherent argument. I’ve never before said that Bolch’s work is superior to anyone’s, but in this case the fact is the fact. Yes, it’s setting the bar at ground level, but there it is.

It seems Bolch has heard various non-custodial fathers complaining that they have to pay to support their kids.

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National Parents Organization has completed a study—the first of its kind—of the parenting time guidelines of each of Ohio’s 88 county courts of domestic relations. These guidelines are intended to guide divorcing parents in setting a parenting time schedule for their children and, often, are explicitly presented as default schedules, “for parents who cannot agree otherwise.” Because these guideline schedules have a significant effect on the schedules parents agree on and those imposed when parents do not agree, they are important factors in shaping the actual parenting of children of divorced parents.

A large and compelling body of recent scientific research shows that children of separated parents benefit from substantially equal parenting time with each parent. (See “NPO Shared Parenting Research Resources” for citations and links.) This means that the defaults that courts set in place are important in promoting the best interest of children. And, importantly, the research established that this is true even for infants and toddlers and even when parents are in (non-violent) high-conflict relationships.

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Ashland, Kentucky newspaper The Daily Independent published this staff editorial calling Kentucky's first in the nation shared parenting law "long overdue." We agree and thank the staff at The Daily Independent for joining the shared parenting movement and recognizing what is best for children. Read the entire editorial here.

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

This article
 begins with this sentence (Chicago Sun-Times, 8/27/18):

It boggles my mind that last year in Illinois, parents owed almost $900 million in child support.

Here’s what boggles my mind: experienced writers who choose to write about subjects about which they know little.  Such a writer is Mary Mitchell, author of the linked-to piece.  Not only does she know almost nothing about child support, she’s not interested in learning.  If she were, she’d probably have done certain obvious things to educate herself. 

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There is an article in The Daily Independent on Kentucky's first in the nation shared parenting law. A recent poll by Public Policy Polling shows that Kentuckians favor the new law, with 84% of respondents agreeing that a child would benefit from equal time with both parents. The author spoke with Matt Hale, Chairman of the Kentucky chapter of National Parents Organization, and Senator Robin Webb of Kentucky on how this bill has been one of the most popular passed this year.

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August 27, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Another day, another boatload of tax money spent for no good reason (Reason, 8/22/18).  It’s the inimitable Lenore Skenazy again with another tale of bureaucratic overreaching, this time on the part of a Wilmette, IL child protective agency.

What were they investigating this time?  An eight-year-old girl walking the family dog.  In her own neighborhood.  Within sight of her mother.  That most normal of situations was anonymously reported to the police who paid a surprise visit to the girl’s mother, Corey Widen.  They left without further ado, but soon the Department of Children and Family Services showed up.  And they didn’t leave the matter at just a quick interview of Widen.  No, they interviewed Widen’s other children, various relatives and the girl’s pediatrician.

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

The National Parents Organization is looking to catch a wave. For some years now, NPO has been the largest, strongest and most effective organization in the country and possibly the world for family court reform. As the arguments in favor of shared parenting grow ever more numerous and stronger, and those against it become weaker and less coherent, NPO believes the wave will continue to grow. Every year, up to half of state legislatures consider bills to make parenting time more equal between mothers and fathers. This past year we saw Kentucky pass the first ever presumption of equal parenting time. Other states, like Arizona, Utah and Missouri have passed less explicit laws that still move us toward equal parenting.

In short, it looks like the momentum for shared parenting will only continue to increase. And of course NPO will be leading the charge toward more just and equitable family courts across the country.

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August 24, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

In this case, it’s taken one mother and two courts in separate countries to deny a child a relationship with her father (Marilyn Stowe Blog, 8/22/18). It looks to have been hard work, but they managed the feat. And of course, the ever bland and gob-smackingly dense John Bolch agrees. Where would we be without Bolch to pillory in the internet town square to the delight of the crowd that actually knows something about family courts and children’s well-being? John, it’s good for a man to have a purpose in life and that appears to be yours.

An American man and a Latvian woman seem to have been married in England and had a daughter in October of 2015. They separated about three months later.

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August 23, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Here’s a bit of good news (IFS, 8/16/18).  And indeed it is just a “bit.”  But good news is good news, even if there’s not a lot of it.

The rate of out-of-wedlock childbearing is declining.  It’s dropped to under 40% of all births, the first time that’s been the case since about 2004.  It rose steadily from 1960 to about 2008 and has declined until 2015, the last year for which we have full data.  The declining trend is the more remarkable because adults of childbearing age are getting married later than ever and the incidence of cohabitation is greater.  Those two things would tend to militate in favor or greater non-marital childbearing, but instead the rate is coming down.

Needless to say, this is good news that I hope will continue.  Children born to and living with single parents tend strongly to do worse than children living in intact families.  The evidence for that has been developed over decades and is overwhelming.  But at some point in the late 60s and early 70s, we as a society got the bright idea that fathers were expendable, that all children really needed was a single primary caregiver.  Unsurprisingly, that person was all but invariably Mom.

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Robert Franklin, Member of our National Board of Directors, has an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle you can read here. It highlights how surveys and polls around the nation have shown that Americans overwhelmingly support shared parenting and that laws need to be enacted to reflect the will of the people. 

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August 22, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

We can now add New Hampshire to the list of states whose child welfare agencies are performing abysmally (Union Leader, 8/17/18). There it’s so bad that the state’s Division for Children, Youth and Families failed in all seven categories considered by the federal Department of Health and Human Services as necessary to a functional child protective agency. That’s right, every single one.

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August 20, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Returning to the California Supreme Court case begun yesterday, the allegations of Bianka M. are worth remembering.  She claimed that her father, Jorge L. was violent to her older sisters and had abandoned her, i.e. failed to act as a father to her despite being able to do so.  Now, those claims didn’t relate to her request for a court order establishing a parent-child relationship between her and Gladys M. who everyone seems to agree is in fact her mother despite not having been in her life for seven of its first 10 years. 

No, those claims relate to Bianka’s “SIJ” (special immigrant juvenile) petition.

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

In one of the most astonishing and disturbing opinions in a long time, the California Supreme Court has ruled that a father’s custodial rights to a child can be voided by a court without even minimal due process of law. Do I overstate the matter? You be the judge.

Jorge L. and Gladys M. lived together unmarried in Honduras. They had four children of whom Bianka, born in 2002, was the youngest. In 2005, Gladys moved to the California. In 2012, Bianka traveled to California to be with her mother.

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

The State of Arkansas has finally wised up (Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 8/11/18).

Nearly 10,000 people whose driver's licenses are suspended for failing to pay child support will get their licenses back if they reach agreement to resume payments under a new program this month.

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August 17, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

This article is about as good as it gets on child support (St. Louis Public Radio, 8/15/18).  It’s a conversation with two St. Louis attorneys, Stephanie Lummus and  Michael-John Voss, both of whom do their best to defend non-custodial parents behind on their child support.  It should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand the everyday realities of those parents and the child support system.

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

It looks like the State of New Hampshire is again going to pay out large sums of money due to its failure to contact a father when his daughter was in dire jeopardy (Union Leader, 8/14/18). Almost three years ago, Katlin Paquette murdered her daughter Sadee. She pled guilty to second-degree murder for which she’s serving a 21 – 42 year sentence.

Sadee’s father, Christopher Willott has sued the state due to its Division of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) ignoring the danger Paquette posed to the child and its own protocols, all of which allegedly resulted in the 21-month-old’s death.

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National Parents Organization of Virginia Chair Christian Paasch has an op-ed in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. This op-ed connects the child separation issues at the US-Mexico border with the separation of families that occurs every day in our family courts. 

Christian writes: 

A growing uproar in this discussion highlights the inconvenient and uncomfortable truth that the policy of forced separation has existed and been applied to American children for decades in our family courts. Obviously in certain circumstances, whether at the border or in families across the country, there may be instances where children should be separated from parents for their own safety, but those are in the minority of cases and are not what we are talking about here.
Read the article here.

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August 13, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

August is Child Support Awareness Month, so let’s all be aware of child support, shall we? Yes, let’s. Now, to be aware of child support, one might read this article or one similar (This Week News, 8/11/18). After all, it’s Child Support Awareness Month, so there are plenty of articles on the subject. But if you do, don’t figure you know all there is on the subject. You don’t. Indeed, the linked-to piece and the others tend to avoid mentioning many salient (and often uncomfortable) facts about child support.

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

Proceeding with Trinder, et al’s 2013 study of British family courts and their approach to applications by non-resident parents (86% were fathers) for enforcement of contact orders.  Transparently, it was the authors’ goal to find that courts were doing an acceptable job and that little or no changes need be made.  That’s made all the clearer by the fact that the authors failed to notice the clear implications of their own findings.

Most notably, in the 205 cases studied, not one judge either ordered a change of custody or simply handed the child to the non-resident parent for a period of time to make up for the refusal by the resident parent to comply with the visitation order.  The authors break down the judges’ orders into five categories, none of which includes those methods of enforcement.

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August 10, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The study linked to in this blog is dated 2013. I write about it now because it’s emblematic of the pushback family court reform advocates receive from some quarters. It’s a British study and transparently an effort to convince readers that family courts are generally doing a fine job, ergo, no change is necessary. Here in the U.S., we get the same claim about shared parenting from family lawyers who sometimes stoop to say that we don’t need new laws because hey, courts are already ordering shared parenting without them. The fact that there’s no evidence for the proposition and plenty to rebut it hinders the anti-reform crowd not a whit.

Seeking to succeed where the Yanks have failed, the British study is an effort to manufacture evidence where otherwise there is none. It’s fails miserably.

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

The Trump administration is urging Congress to “overhaul” child support enforcement practices (Washington Examiner, 8/7/18). The linked-to article is short on specifics, but, from what I can gather, the White House looks like it intends to address some problems, just not those that need addressing.
The White House has called for an overhaul of federal child support enforcement to shift more responsibility for children's welfare from the government to parents, part of the administration’s larger welfare reform agenda.
In a previously unreported report to congressional Republicans, White House officials recommended requiring parents to cooperate with child support enforcement in order to be eligible for government benefits, including for programs that do not currently have such requirements, such as food stamps and housing aid.

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August 6, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

There’s a lot to this article (Good Men Project, 7/28/18). Much of the anguish fathers feel on losing huge swaths of time with their children following divorce comes through loudly and clearly. Those raw emotions are there in every line.

But there’s more, and that’s what I want to focus on.

The writer, John McElhenney first learned that his wife was leaving him after she’d already consulted a lawyer. Needless to say, things didn’t go well for John.

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