our-blog-icon-top
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.  

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
chris benson mB7PrY1psGc unsplash

December 20, 2019 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

Dr. Brad Wilcox is not happy (IFStudies, 12/12/19).  And I’m with him all the way.

On December 9, the New York Times ran an op-ed by Dr. Cristina Cross entitled “The Myth of the Two-Parent Home,” that sought to convince readers that growing up without a father isn’t as important a detriment for black kids as for whites.  Of course the idea that fatherlessness is a problem for kids is far from a “myth.”  Indeed, it’s one of the most persistent findings in all of the literature of social science.

Even Cross admitted that fatherlessness is an important problem to all fatherless children, but still tried to downplay its importance in educational attainment.  I wrote about her piece here.  Now it’s Wilcox’s turn.  He doesn’t mince words.

For those who doubt that family structure denialism is a thing on the Left, one need only open the pages of The New York Times this week for yet another effort “to minimize or deny the importance of marriage and family structure.”…

[O]ne need only look at the literature to see that the article amounts to a particularly egregious exercise in cherry-picking, drawing on only two studies to make the argument about family structure and black children. In fact, Cross completely passes over a finding from her own study that showed the link between family structure and college enrollment was not lower for African-Americans.

Was that what it took to get the Times to publish her piece?

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
Ashley Nicole Russell

This three-part series is written by Ashley-Nicole Russell, an author, speaker, and attorney, who is a child of divorce and a divorcee. She is an expert in divorce culture and shared parenting techniques. Through this series, she will explain what divorcing parents need to keep in mind during the holiday season as they work through separation, divorce, and/or life after divorce.

Part 3: Supporting Family Structures

The holiday season is often filled with family traditions. For your family, things are probably different than in years past. Your family structure has changed, however as we discussed in Part 1 and Part 2, your child’s holiday season doesn’t have to be impacted negatively because of separation or divorce. Just as your family structure changed, new family structures may be formed. Oftentimes, new people are introduced to children during the holiday season. This could be your co-parent’s new boyfriend or girlfriend, your new boyfriend or girlfriend, and/or the families of those new significant others. I don’t have to explain to you how difficult this might be for your children. It may also be difficult for you as an ex-spouse.

If you are a parent who is introducing your children to a special someone and/or that special someone’s family, I want you to be mindful of the entire situation. It may be beneficial to have a private conversation with your co-parent before you even tell your children that you are dating someone. To maintain a strong shared parenting relationship, you need to show your co-parent respect in this process. Understand that it may not be the news they want to hear. Speaking of, just because you’re excited about your new relationship, it doesn’t mean your children are just as excited. Your children are still learning how to form their own relationships and they don’t have an adult perspective of what your new relationship means. As you enter back into the dating world, be aware of how your children will model this behavior in the future. Don’t be the type of parent who jumps from relationship to relationship. If your children observe that, it will make an impact on how they date, maintain relationships, and process feelings in the future. I know that sounds raw, but it’s an important topic that should be considered.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
Ashley Nicole Russell

This three-part series is written by Ashley-Nicole Russell, an author, speaker, and attorney, who is a child of divorce and  a divorcee. She is an expert in divorce culture and shared parenting techniques. Through this series, she will explain what divorcing parents need to keep in mind during the holiday season as they work through separation, divorce, and/or life after divorce.

Part 2: Committing to Communication

Your ex may be the last person you want to talk to in the entire world… especially ahead of a holiday season.  

As a divorcee, I get it. As a Collaborative-focused divorce attorney, I want you to look past it. When your children are involved, you and your former spouse need to put them first and commit to a communication plan that is effective. If you choose a collaborative divorce attorney, they’ll help you stay focused with this communication goal and will even help outline plans for situations like holidays, birthdays, and vacations.

I tell my clients that they’ll be a better person and a better parent by the time they’re done with their Collaborative divorce. This can be achieved by learning conflict management types, understanding your co-parent and your children, and developing a new perspective.  Think about your communication plan as the game of chess. Instead of being a piece on the board, you want to place yourself above the board with an overview. With this perspective you will develop awareness of the circumstance of divorce and as a person in the divorce. 

In my book, The Cure for Divorce Culture, I go into detail on how this communication mindset can be achieved based on psychology and sociology. This book also explains how your communication plan can impact your children in the way that children mirror the behavior they grow up around and what they experience. That being said, a considerate communication plan is important not only for you and your co-parent, but also so your children can learn by example and treat others with respect. 

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
light sunset people water 34014 1

December 18, 2019 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

Not long ago, I wrote about a case out of New Zealand in which a European mother had abducted her daughter.  It took Dad three years to locate her and file a suit for the child’s return. 

In that case, New Zealand courts did exactly what they’re not supposed to do under the applicable international law.  Instead of ascertaining the child’s country of habitual residence (in that case, it was clearly the European country in which the family had resided for years) and then returning the child to that country for disposition of whatever legal issues existed, the New Zealand courts decided to act as surrogate family courts.  They decided the issue that family courts decide – the child’s best interests – and kept her in New Zealand, giving a judicial stamp of approval for the mother’s wrongful action.  The remarkable thing about the case was that the appellate court admitted in no uncertain terms that its decision and that of the lower court were wrong under the Hague Convention to which New Zealand is a signatory, but did so anyway.

Now comes a case out of the U.S. that demonstrates how such a case should be handled (Cleveland.com, 12/10/19).

An American woman, Michelle Monasky, married an Italian anesthesiologist, Dr. Domenico Taglieri, in Italy.  Soon enough, they had a child, A.M.T.  But when the little girl was just eight weeks old, Monasky abducted her to Ohio near where her parents live.  Apparently Monasky had filed for divorce in Italy and claimed Taglieri was abusive.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
two boys and woman surrounded green plants 1497530 1

December 16, 2019 by Robert Franklin, JD, National Board of Directors

Here’s an interesting piece on parental alienation by psychologist Dr. Stanton Samenow (Psychology Today, 12/9/19).  It’s of course meant for clinicians, but presents an issue lawyers and judges will also want to consider.

That issue can be roughly stated as “Is an alienating parent being malicious or does she/he actually believe their allegations?”  Of course one answer is that the alienator may be doing both.  Mental illness doesn’t preclude malice.

Still, Samenow has a point; what motivates alienating behavior is all-important for understanding and changing it.

He refers pseudonymously to two former clients of his, “Marcia” and “Donald.”

Marcia contended that Donald, her husband, posed an extreme danger to her and their three children. She provided a vivid account of her husband’s emotionally and physically abusive behavior. Specifically, she alleged that Donald had thrown their five-year-old son down the stairs causing him to suffer head trauma.  She reported that her husband kicked open a basement window, entered the marital home, then terrorized her and the children with a knife.  Alleging that Donald had been attempting to poison her and the children, she continued to fear for their lives.

And there was more, much more.  Marcia reported all this to doctors and other emergency room personnel.  She went to the police.  She had her lawyer ask the court for sole custody of their children.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
man carrying her daughter smiling 1157395 1

December 13, 2019 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

Sigh.  What to make of this New York Times op-ed (New York Times, 12/9/19)?  Is it really as confusing and wrong-headed as it seems?  You decide.

First, the headline (and sub-headline) not only don’t accurately describe the article and they don’t get close to describing the underlying study on which the article is based.  Here they are:

The Myth of the Two-Parent Home

New research indicates that access to resources, more than family structure, matters for black kids’ success.

But of course the article says nothing about the two-parent home being a “myth.”  On the contrary, author Dr. Christina Cross is at pains to say this:

Let me be clear: I’m not suggesting that the two-parent family is bad for children of any race or ethnicity. Indeed, scholars have noted its wide array of benefits for children, parents and communities, especially those from middle-class backgrounds.

So, far from being a “myth,” Cross acknowledges the “wide array of benefits” for everyone that arises from two-parent households.

As to what “matters for black kids’ success,” Cross didn’t analyze that.  “Success,” after all is an astonishingly broad term and not something we’d expect to be examined by a single study.  No, what Cross looked at was first, kids’ likelihood of graduating from high school on time and, second, their likelihood of enrolling in college.  Those two specific considerations were all she studied.

In short, the article’s headline has little to do with the article.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
man and boy sitting on floor near body of water 1161442 1

December 12, 2019 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

Children do well when both parents participate actively in their upbringing and work to provide consistent attention, affection, and discipline, as well as meeting their material needs. This is easiest to achieve when the parents are married and living together. 

That’s psychologist Nicholas Zill writing here (IFS, 12/4/19).  In my last piece, I summarized some of his findings.

So Zill clearly understands the fact that children do better with both parents in their lives than in any other situation.  But here too is Zill:

While married fathers of today are playing a more active role in their children’s lives than married fathers of yesteryear, many fathers who don’t live with their kids are doing little either to support their children or even interact with them. The trend data reviewed in this essay suggest that the situation is not improving.

That’s to be found under Zill’s heading “No Substitute for Responsible Fathers.”  As such, Zill suggests that the problem of fatherless or “under-fathered” kids stems from the failure on the part of the men to take up their responsibilities as dads.  It’s a common claim, particularly among those on the right of the political spectrum.  The theory seems to be that if men were somehow to become better people, the problem of fatherless kids would vanish.  The claim is terribly misguided.  Worse, it’s an excuse for failing to do the hard work of not only reforming laws, but changing the cultural narrative on fathers.  After all, if the problem is the fathers themselves, what can you or I do?

But for decades now we’ve known that the irresponsible dad trope is mostly nonsense.  Of course there are men who flee their parental responsibilities, as do some women.  But there’s plenty of social science that finds them to be in the minority.  Even the poorest and least educated men want to play a real role in their children’s lives, as the many, many studies conducted using the data produced by the Fragile Families and Child Well-being longitudinal survey demonstrate.  Two decades ago, Sanford Braver gave the lie to the claim that men don’t care about their kids.

Unfortunately for all of us though, this culture tells fathers, at every turn in the road of a child’s life, that they are unwanted and unneeded, that they’re at best superfluous and at worst a danger to children and mothers alike. 

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
david straight sAabA4Z8OfU unsplash

December 11, 2019 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

Nicholas Zill has had a long and illustrious career as a research psychologist.  Anyone who’s studied issues related to families, fathers and children over the last 30 years or so has run into his work.  He’s now a senior fellow at the Institute for Family Studies.  Here’s his most recent article (IFS, 12/4/19).

There’s nothing earth-shaking in the piece.  He’s simply reporting on child support figures and raising issues about what they mean for kids.  He rightly points out for example that the child support enforcement system works just fine for parents who’d be paying anyway, but does a lousy job if the parents are poor.  We know this because the Office of Child Support Enforcement has been letting us know for well over a decade.

More importantly,

[M]y examination of child support data from the Census Bureau reveals that the new fatherhood (i.e. fathers spending more parenting time) is not benefiting the children who need it most. (parenthetical mine)

That is, whereas married and more affluent fathers are spending greater amounts of time with their kids than did fathers of past generations, poorer and less well-educated fathers aren’t.  Now, I’m not sure that, as Zill suggests, kids of poor parents need their fathers more than do those from more privileged backgrounds, but Zill has a point: there’s a divide in American society between those with actively engaged fathers and those without.  Those without tend to be poorer, not incidentally because they don’t have fathers in the home.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
humphrey muleba jrOPyEXA8DE unsplash

December 10, 2019 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

Once again, a court has ignored the plain meaning of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.  Once again, a child is left in the custody of an alienating mother.  Once again, a fit father is removed from his child’s life.  Once again, the very courts that are supposed to discourage international child kidnapping in fact endorse it.

This time the mother’s destination was New Zealand and the child’s country of habitual residence was somewhere in Europe (the article doesn’t say which country).  But, as in so many other cases, the result is the same – Mom managed to elude authorities long enough so the courts ruled that the child’s “best interests” can only be served by leaving her in the custody of an abuser and effectively removing the father from her life.

Such is the way of the Hague Convention that was written to prevent exactly that from happening.

This highly informative article tells the tale (New Zealand Herald, 12/2/19).

Five years ago, the mother abducted the child from Europe to New Zealand.  The girl’s father tried for three years to locate her and, only through dumb luck, eventually succeeded.  He immediately filed a suit under the Hague Convention for return of the girl to him and her home country. 

At that point, the Hague Convention intends that the court in the country to which the child is abducted ask the question, “What is the child’s country of habitual residence?”  In other words, was the child taken from her home by an abductor or to her home from an abductor?  Clearly, the European country in which she’d been born and lived all her life was her country of habitual residence.  Therefore, according to the Convention, the girl should be returned home and any legal proceedings occur there.

But the family court in New Zealand wrongly refused to issue an order requiring the girl’s return to her father in Europe.  I know that to be wrong because (a) the Convention is very clear on what a court is to do and (b) the New Zealand Court of Appeal said so.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
affection beach care caucasian 433502 1

December 9, 2019 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

Not long ago, KARE 11 in Minneapolis aired this panel discussion on shared parenting (KARE 11, 11/28/19).  It featured four pro-shared parenting advocates and four opposed.  Among the “pros” was NPO’s good friend and tireless fighter for equal parenting, Molly Olson.  The discussion was noteworthy mostly for being not noteworthy.  That is, the anti-shared parenting folks had no new arguments to make and the ones they did make were without merit.

For starters, they weren’t as truthful as we might have liked.  For starters, they tried convincing listeners that Minnesota law now requires “maximization” of parenting time for each parent based on several factors.  But as Olson pointed out, it does no such thing.  Much like current law in Australia, it only requires judges to “consider” maximizing parenting time.  Unsurprisingly, that does the cause of equality little good.

They also claimed that the bill currently before the legislature would remove the child’s age from the factors for consideration by the judge, but again, it does no such thing.  As Olson again said, under the bill, a judge would be able to take the child’s age into consideration, but it couldn’t be the only factor in his/her decision on custody or parenting time.

In short, it seeks to remove from judges’ tool box a de facto Tender Years Doctrine under which young children are automatically ordered to the sole custody of their mother.  And, speaking of that doctrine, it seems to be very much favored by the anti-shared parenting group.  At one point, their discussion seemed to take for granted that a child under the age of three should be with its mother.  Needless to say, the social science rebutting that didn’t enter into their remarks.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
chris benson mB7PrY1psGc unsplash

The Supreme Court of Mexico has struck down as unconstitutional a provision in the capital’s law that has automatically given to mothers child custody of children under the age of 12 (KVOA, 11/21/19).  That is, up to now, every child under the age of 12 in the country’s federal district, risked losing its precious relationship with its father when the adults split up.  That was the district’s version of the Tender Years Doctrine that’s been abandoned by most countries in the Western world, Israel being one notable exception.

Mexico City, that makes up most of the federal district, has a population of almost 22 million people, so the change affects a large proportion of the country.

The Supreme Court found Thursday that the rule governing custody of kids under 12 years old is unconstitutional for making a distinction on gender.

The ruling is based on the principle of equality and the higher interest of minors. It says the unconstitutional language violates the latter by taking away judges’ discretion to consider the individual circumstances of each case to determine which parent is best equipped to care for a child’s needs.

Therefore, children’s best interests were deemed by the court to have been compromised by the previous law because, after all, in many instances, Mom’s not the better parent.  But up to now, judges had no discretion to give custody to Dad. 

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
Fraley and Rep Lowery

December 4, 2019 by Patrick Fraley

The Law of Inertia states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest, whereas an object in motion tends to stay in motion. Few things have more inertia than family courts, standing still for decades despite major changes in the world around them. Like most states, Arkansas has been working toward laws and practices that support joint custody, equal parental rights, and best outcomes for children. Since the 1970’s, laws have been passed to correct outdated theories and practices to bring family courts in line with public opinion and “best interest of the child.” Why is it taking so long? With each push the legislature has made to bring family law into the modern era, there has been an opposing reaction by the family law industry to keep the status quo.

Arkansas, like other states, used to include maternal preference in its custody laws. This was based on misguided theories like the Tender Years doctrine, alleging that young children needed to be raised by their mothers. As society changed, anti-discrimination ideas advanced, and Tender Years was dismissed, maternal preference was replaced with gender-neutral laws and the “best interest of the child” principle. In Arkansas, this occurred in 1979 with the passage of Act 278, stating the award of custody “be made without regard to the sex of the parent” but solely in the “best interest of the children.” However, the family law industry looked the other way and failed to change its practices. Custody continued to be almost universally given to mothers while fathers were turned into visitors paying child support. Joint custody  - what we now know to be the best outcome for children - was almost nonexistent.

It wasn’t until over 20 years later that the Arkansas legislature stepped in to direct the courts toward joint custody. Act 92 of 2003 stated “In making an order for custody, the court may consider awarding joint custody of a child to the parents.” The goal was to have judges start treating joint custody as a viable option. How did they respond? The courts negated the new law with their own appellate case law. In 2006, Bailey v Bailey reversed a lower court order for joint custody on the grounds that joint custody was “disfavored” in the state, giving primary custody to the parent who didn’t want joint custody. Once again, the lawyers and judges held their ground despite the new law allowing joint custody and the mounting evidence behind it.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

December 4, 2019 By Don Hubin, PhD, Chair, Board of Directors

We goofed!

Last September, NPO released the 2019 NPO Shared Parenting Report Card. This was the first update to the research that NPO pioneered in 2014 to review the child custody statutes of all 50 states and the District of Columbia and evaluate them on the degree to which they promote shared parenting.

Unfortunately, we missed a key provision of Arkansas law. In both the 2014 Report and the 2019 Report (as released in September). Arkansas statutes state that “[i]n an action for divorce, an award of joint custody is favored in Arkansas” (ARK. CODE ANN. § 9-13-101(a)(1)(A)(iii)). And, furthermore, Arkansas statutes define ‘joint custody’ strongly: “the approximate and reasonable equal division of time with the child by both parents individually as agreed to by the parents or as ordered by the court” (ARK. CODE ANN. § 9-13-101(a)(1)(A)(iii)(B)(5)).

These are important provisions of Arkansas law that should serve to promote shared parenting and, reflecting these changes, NPO has changed the grade for Arkansas’s shared parenting statutes from a ‘D-’ to a ‘C+’.

That’s a significant improvement, to be sure. But there’s plenty of room for the lawmakers in Arkansas to take further steps to promote shared parenting. The language of “favoring” shared parenting amounts only to a policy statement. It does not create a rebuttable presumption of substantially equal shared parenting. And, because of its vagueness, courts are not interpreting the statutory language as creating even a legal preference for shared parenting.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
Ginger Gentile Film DirectorNational Parents Organization welcomes Ginger Gentile our new Executive Director. This might sound like old news; as many of you know, Ginger has been part of the NPO team since last June. However, because of her other commitments, especially the rollout of her powerful and poignant documentary film, Erasing Family, Ginger was able to devote only part of her time to NPO and she served as our Deputy Executive Director. On December 1, Ginger became NPO’s Executive Director, devoting her full-time efforts to helping make equal shared parenting the norm when parents live apart. 

Ginger brings a broad range of talents, skills, and knowledge as well as a deep understanding of the problems that NPO is addressing. Her personal experience and her work as a film director and documentary maker, not only of Erasing Family but also of the earlier film Erasing Dad (Borrando a Papá), have given Ginger a deep and personal understanding of the trauma many children face when one of their parents is erased from their lives--trauma that often follows them far into adulthood.

In her brief time working with NPO so far, Ginger has helped establish new NPO affiliate chapters in Florida, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Alabama, Colorado and Texas. She created a series of webcasts to educate both advocates and the general public and she oversaw the rollout of the 2019 NPO Shared Parenting Report Card, including organizing a press conference at Rockefeller Center announcing it which was covered by US News & World Report, Fox News, and Yahoo!

Welcome aboard as our Executive Director, Ginger. We look forward to working with you to change laws, practices, and, perhaps most importantly, attitudes and expectations so that children won’t be deprived of a loving parent just because the parents are living apart.

Don Hubin

Chair, National Board, NPO

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
baby cap child 754172

December 2, 2019 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

The problem of domestic violence allegations has bedeviled family courts for decades.  Family lawyers have long said that those allegations are often made to gain an advantage in child custody matters.  Judges have to figure out if the claims have merit and, if so, what to do about them.  Often they’re trained to err on the side of believing the complainant, i.e. to issue restraining orders in the absence of much real evidence for the claim.  That of course means the targeted parent, usually the father, can be removed from his place of residence and denied contact with his children, among other restrictions.

I’ve written about this a good bit lately regarding Australian family courts.  There, accused parents may wait for many months before they even get a hearing on a DV claim, all the while being subjected to a restraining order that was granted in a matter of days or even hours.

What’s given rise to my posts about the situation in Australia is the welter of articles defending the status quo.  Those pieces typically assume that only men commit DV and only women are its victims while going on to claim that women never lie about in their complaints.

U.S. courts aren’t quite as extreme as Australian ones, but the fact remains that claims of DV continue to be used as a tactic for gaining custody of children.

So it’s useful to know the facts about DV, facts that many who oppose shared parenting are happy to keep under wraps.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

As we approach the season of giving, I hope everyone who reads the NPO blog will give what they can to help us in our mission to reform family courts.  That mission is, in my mind, the most important of all social causes.  Ensuring that family courts and laws stop separating children from parents is vital to kids’ well-being both now and long into the future.  Keeping both parents actively involved in children’s lives helps children, parents and society generally by reducing the many psychological deficits that trouble children without a mother or a father.

The National Parents Organization is by far the leader in this vital movement for reform.  We have the national scope and strategy to address the need for change from across the country.  In the past year, we’ve accomplished great things, including the anniversary of the first-ever presumption of shared parenting law in Kentucky.  We now boast 23 active state affiliates and our Shared Parenting Report Card brought national attention to the shocking disparity among states in their approaches to shared parenting.  Every day, on the NPO website, social media and in newspapers, we spread the word about shared parenting and answer those who would continue the dysfunctional status quo.

The future looks bright for NPO.  Our new Executive Director, Ginger Gentile, is enthusiastic, energetic and knowledgeable.   Our Board of Directors is more active than ever.  Our affiliates are staffed with the best, most dedicated volunteers we’ve ever had.  We’re poised to be the most effective we’ve ever been.

But of course, we can’t do it without funds.  Expanding our capabilities to meet the needs or our affiliates and to battle the opposition takes money.  Giving Tuesday comes on December 3 this year.  If you give on that day, your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000 and every dollar counts.

Please consider making your tax-exempt donation to the National Parents Organization.  You can do so here:

https://nationalparentsorganization.networkforgood.com/projects/85594-givingtuesday

I know you value NPO’s work because you read our blog and follow our activities.  Won’t you help make us even better and more effective than we already are?  Children and parents across the country will thank you for doing so.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
action adult carry 1378866

November 25, 2019 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

It's a victory for Johnson who can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing she fought the system and finally, won.

But is it a victory?  Did Jean Johnson “win?”  If so, it’s a Pyrrhic one.

Jean Johnson’ son Lance was married to a woman who goes unnamed by this article (News4, 11/13/19).  They had two children, but Lance’s wife had an affair with another man and gave birth to his child.  She and Lance divorced and he was ordered to pay child support for his two children.  DNA evidence cited by the court proved Lance to be the father of only those two. 

Documents obtained by News 4 show the courts have confirmed the child in question was fathered through a relationship the child's mother had with another man years ago, while she was married to Johnson's son.

Lance seems to have paid the support he owed for his two kids, but the state child support enforcement agency, the Child Support Enforcement Division, decided he owed for all three children.  It therefore began calculating arrears based on his non-payment for the child who’s not his.  Lance moved out of state, but his mother, Jean, began a fight with the CSED to rectify its mistake and stop dunning Lance for money he didn’t owe.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn



On our most recent Facebook live chat, Deputy Executive Director Ginger Gentile spoke with Collaborative Attorney and Author Ashley Nicole Russell, Esq. about how to de-escalate conflict in divorce, put the kids first, and why #sharedparenting is so important. As a child of divorce, Ashley-Nicole presents first-hand knowledge of how the current family law system creates conflict and how collaborative law can make the divorce process smoother and lessen the trauma contentious divorces can inflict on children.  Ashley-Nicole is the author of The Cure for Divorce Culture and recently wrote a post for our blog on how to successfully co-parent during the holidays. This video got over 1,400 view and presents new opportunities for shared parenting advocates and professionals involved in family law to come together to reform current practices that hurt kids.

You can reach Ashley-Nicole Russell, Esq at:

@anrlaw on social media
www.anrlaw.com
[email protected] 

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
daiga ellaby 7edWO30e32k unsplash

November 22, 2019 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

Well, that didn’t take long.  I’ve been writing about the reaction, by those who apparently want fathers marginalized in their children’s lives, to the latest review of family law in Australia.  Their claims have little basis in fact and are best viewed as efforts to maintain the status quo in family courts.

Their main point is that judges routinely ignore mother’s claims of domestic violence and child abuse in order to hand over child custody to abusive fathers.  Of course, in many cases judges rule against mothers who claim abuse because there’s insufficient evidence of it or, sometimes, the claims are deliberately fabricated.  But according to the likes of Zoe Rathus and Jess Hill, mothers apparently never lie about abuse.  If Mom says it happened, it happened.  Such seems to be their basic assumption.

Indeed, the headline to the Rathus article was “Parental Alienation: the debunked theory that mothers lie about violence is still used in court.”  Never mind that that’s not what PA is and never mind that PA has never been “debunked” and in fact is coming to be more and more understood by legal and mental health practitioners.  The key to the Rathus piece (and others) is the assumption that mothers don’t lie about violence or abuse.  It’s patent nonsense, but that’s their claim.

Now, hard on the heels of those scurrilous claims, comes a case out of Nebraska that demands an answer from those who claim that, when a mother claims abuse, it’s always the truth.  What do they say to every judge in the case and every witness, expert and non-expert alike, who testified under oath that the mother in the case was not only wrong in her claims of abuse, but obviously so?  What do they say to the clear evidence that what Mom did in the case was itself abusive of her daughter?  Facts are stubborn things, so I’d be interested in their response.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
Ashley Nicole Russell

This three-part series is written by Ashley-Nicole Russell, an author, speaker, and attorney, who is a child of divorce and a divorcee. She is an expert in divorce culture and shared parenting techniques. Through this series, she will explain what divorcing parents need to keep in mind during the holiday season as they work through separation, divorce, and/or life after divorce.

Part 1: Pledging to Co-Parent

I’m sure you and your spouse never thought divorce would be in your future. While your lives will significantly change, your child’s life doesn’t have to be significantly impacted. The holiday season is full of excitement, magic, and wonder. You and your spouse must come to agreement that you both don’t want your divorce to change your child’s perception of Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, or New Year’s celebrations. 

As a Collaborative Law divorce attorney, I believe in co-parenting and shared parenting agreements rather than court ordered custody agreements. If you’ve never heard of it, the Collaborative process is a legal alternative to court proceedings for couples facing divorce. This type of divorce is similar, yet different from mediation. During a Collaborative Law divorce, you have an attorney who can give legal advice. Each spouse must have their own attorney as they are separately represented. In mediation, a third-party is tasked with negotiating settlements with neutrality. This third-party cannot offer legal advice and represents neither of the spouses during the process.

When children are involved, a Collaborative process if often favored by most parents because child custody agreements are handled out of the court system. Children are not meant for the environment of a volatile and traumatic courtroom. There are dozens of studies that show the lasting impact a traditional divorce proceeding can have on children. As researched and cited in my recently published book, The Cure for Divorce Culture, children of the traditional litigation divorce model commit suicide 30% more, are addicted to substances and alcohol 18% more, and divorce at an alarming rate or do not get married at all. A 35-year longitudinal study shows children are broken from the conflict of divorce. I believe this conflict begins in a large part with primary and secondary parental titles.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
SE Missourian

November 21, 2019 by Mark Bliss ~ Southeast Missourian

Area lawmakers will introduce bills for the 2020 state legislative session addressing everything from shared parenting to texting while driving.

Lawmakers can pre-file bills beginning next month.

State Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau, said his top priority is to pass a shared-parenting bill. It would create a “rebuttal presumption” for parents in child-custody cases to receive equal time with their children, he said.

He introduced similar legislation last session, but it failed to pass.

“This is going to be a big push for me,” he said. “Most fatherlessness is created by outdated court systems, not abandonment, so I want to get that corrected.”

State Rep. Kathy Swan, R-Cape Girardeau, plans to offer a similar bill in the House. The goal, she said, is to force judges to start with the premise parents should be granted equal time with their children unless there is evidence showing such a move is not warranted.

Read the full article at the Southeast Missourian

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
action adult carry 1378866

November 21, 2019 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

Augusto Zimmerman’s article in The Spectator summarizes his recommendations to the new Joint Committee on Australia’s Family Law System (The Spectator, 11/11/19).  Zimmerman is a heavyweight in the Australian family law community; among other things, he’s a law professor and former commissioner of the Law Reform Committee of Western Australia.  His words damn the system of domestic violence restraining orders from start to finish.

It’s a truism about human nature that, whenever we give power to any group of people, there’s a substantial likelihood that some of them will abuse that power.  The recognition of that truism explains why there are so few monarchies left, why we have a system of “checks and balances,” a Bill of Rights, etc.  It’s why we audit financial statements of businesses and monitor (ideally via the press) the doings of governmental officials.  It’s why we have elections.

And so it is with domestic violence and the restraining orders that Australian judges hand out like so much candy to children.  Those who claim victimization and seek restraining orders are placed by law in a position of power.  Most of them don’t abuse that power, but altogether too many of them do as the truism predicts.

It is that system of granting astonishing power to one person at the expense of others that Zimmerman so effectively excoriates.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn


On November 14 Deputy Executive Director was joined live on Facebook by Kenya N. Rahmaan, the author of The Child Support Hustle (N.K. Clark) and the Founder of The Reform Child Support NOW! Movement. She joined NPOto discuss the child support system, how little of the money collected actually goes to kids, and how it creates modern day debtors' prisons. Ms. Rahmaan recently wrote a blog post for NPO about a man, Richard Scotti, who was denied a modification of his child support order when he found his earnings dropping with the decline of printing industry and now faces jail time. She let us know that "Dead broke should never mean ‘Deadbeat’ and it is not a crime to be poor." This video has gotten over 3,000 views on Facebook and opened up an important conversation around child support and shared parenting.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn
boy child childhood 1320701

November 19, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors

The shoddy screeds written by Zoe Rathus and Jess Hill in an effort to convince Australian governmental authorities that mothers are ill treated by fathers and judges in family courts are predictably short on facts and intellectual scruples and long on indignation.  They and others who oppose kids maintaining real relationships with both parents following divorce or separation routinely cite bad “science,” ignore good science, misrepresent other science and fabricate definitions of parental alienation.  That’s apparently what you do when you don’t have anything of substance to contribute to the conversation.

But there are other people, reputable people, scrupulous people who are talking as well and it’s high time we paid attention to them.  One is Augusto Zimmerman.  He’s a heavyweight in Australian family law.  Here’s how this article describes him (The Spectator, 11/11/19):

Dr Augusto Zimmermann was a Law Reform Commissioner with the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia from 2012-2017. He is currently Professor and Head of Law at Sheridan College, Perth, and Professor of Law (Adjunct) at the University of Notre Dame Australia Sydney campus. He is also President of the Western Australian Legal Theory Association (WALTA).

Now, one of the claims/strong suggestions made by Rathus, Hill, et al is that mothers don’t lie about abuse.  Hill and American academic Joan Meier avoid saying so explicitly, being content to let their readers draw the desired conclusion.  Rathus is more frank; the headline of her recent piece in “The Conversation” reads “Parental Alienation: The Debunked Theory that Women Lie about Violence…”  That makes the matter plain; she wants us to believe that the theory that women lie about violence has been debunked.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn