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Fathers and Families

Shared Parenting Teeters in the Balance, “We’re Not Deadbeats,” Arizona Modifying Best Interests of the Child
May 16, 2012
Top Story
Shared Parenting Teeters in the Balance

Ned Holstein
Ned Holstein
Here is your chance to stand tall and grab a big victory for the shared parenting movement. But it is imperative that you act immediately.

Everything you need to know follows.

Background:
Both the Minnesota State Senate and Minnesota House have passed bills requiring that each parent get a minimum of 35% of the parenting time—including during temporary orders. Any of you who have been through the custody process knows that temporary orders are crucial—months to years later, they have a way of turning into permanent orders.

Now the bill known as HF322 sits on Governor Mark Dayton’s desk, awaiting his signature. As always, special-interests are working to persuade the Governor to veto the bill.

Here’s where you come in: it is important for you to do these three things immediately:
  1. Telephone Governor Dayton’s office at (651) 201-3400 and politely request that he sign HF322.
  2. Email the Governor’s office at http://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/form/ Send a copy of your message to me at [email protected]. I will forward them all to Molly Olson (see below).
  3. Get two other residents of Minnesota to do as you have done, one of whom should be a woman. Family, friends, church acquaintances, colleagues at work—anybody who believes in gender equality and in best interests of children.
Molly Olson
Molly Olson
Molly Olson and her husband created the Center for Parental Responsibility (CPR) in Minnesota, and have been tireless advocates for shared parenting for a dozen years. Late night meetings, endless meetings at the Statehouse, giving up income opportunities, tens of thousands of telephone calls, training volunteers, putting personal money into the movement… all this and more.

So do this as a sign of respect for Molly. She has earned it.

A telephone call is more effective than an email. Please pick up the phone and make the call. Don’t worry about having to disclose private information, angering anybody, or being an expert—none of those things will matter. Just talk nicely and urge the Governor to sign HF322. It is a numbers game.

Ordinary citizens support shared parenting by a huge margin. Only a few small special interests oppose it. But the special interests always win if citizens don’t act!

If you have any questions about this process, feel free to telephone me at (617) 542-9300 extension 1. I will be pleased to speak with you about this important Minnesota legislation and how we are making changes in other states.

If you want more detail, you will find a great story by Fathers and Families’ Robert Franklin, Esq. at http://www.fathersandfamilies.org/2012/05/10/victory-in-minnesota/.

Together with you in the love of our children,
Ned Holstein, MD, MS
Founder and Chair of the Board, Fathers and Families





Arizona Governor Signs Legislation Modifying Best Interests of the Child
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law SB 1127, legislation that updates current Arizona statute to modify the factors a court must consider when determining what is in the best interest of a child. The ultimate goal is to limit one-sided decisions and to encourage as much shared parent-child time as possible for the positive development of the child.

Ned Holstein
William Fabricius
The legislation is the result of the work of the Arizona Domestic Relations Committee chaired by William Fabricius, an associate professor of psychology at Arizona State University.

SB 1127 is the Committee’s second bill. It was sponsored by Senator Sylvia Allen and Senator Linda Gray. It states that the courts shall maximize parenting time between the two parents and order shared legal decision-making. In 2010, the Committee’s first bill was signed into law that said that it is in the children’s best interest for parents to share legal decision making and for both parents to have frequent, meaningful, substantial and continual parenting time.

“It gives the court and the public a clear statement that if there is no evidence to the contrary, the courts will maximize the parenting time between the two households. That should remove the perception of bias and should result in Arizona children having more equitable time with both their parents after divorce,” Fabricius said.

As a child psychologist, Fabricius saw the need to study the effects of divorce on children 12 years ago. Arizona children from divorced families who were studied from seventh to tenth grade from 2003 to 2006 revealed that 50 percent of children at every age wanted to spend more time with their fathers.

“If children spend less than substantial time with both parents, this is a huge long-term public health issue. It sets up this chronic stress response that initiates stress-related health problems including susceptibility to cancer and early mortality. These weren’t just our findings. This is supported by long-term health studies that link parent-child relationships and later health,” he said.

Provisions of SB 1127 include:
  • Replaces in statue legal custody with legal decision-making, and physical custody or parental visitation with parenting time.
  • Modifies the child’s best interests as follows:
    • Adds the past, present and potential future relationship between the parent and child.
    • Includes whether one parent intentionally mislead the court to cause an unnecessary delay, to increase the cost of litigation or to persuade the court to give a legal decision-making or parenting time preference to that parent.
    • Specifies the child must be of suitable age and maturity for the court to consider the child’s wishes as a factor.
    • Removes which parent has provided primary care of the child and the wishes of the child’s parent.
  • Requires a court, in a contested legal decision-making or parenting time case, to make specific findings on the record about all relevant factors and the reasons for which the decision is in the best interests of the child.
  • Specifies that an order for sole legal decision-making does not allow a parent to alter unilaterally a court-ordered parenting time plan.
  • States a parent who is not granted sole or joint legal decision-making is entitled to reasonable parenting time to ensure that the child has substantial, frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with the parent unless a court finds that parenting time would endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.
Other research that polled the Arizona public showed that people from all walks of life strongly support equal parenting time and laws that support equal time, but they believe that the courts are biased toward mothers. “The public belief that the courts are biased is going to affect the decisions that divorcing parents make,” Fabricius said.

Professor Fabricius’ research and his work on family law has been written about by Fathers and Families’ Robert Franklin. http://www.fathersandfamilies.org/2011/05/29/arizona-state-researcher-at-equal-parenting-time-the-quality-of-the-father-child-relationship-was-at-its-highest/




“We’re Not Deadbeats”
Fathers For Justice
Fathers 4 Justice calls in some heavy hitters for help in London. (Reuters/Kieran Doherty)
Recently Latitude News quoted Fathers and Families’ Founder and Chair Ned Holstein in its story, Dad’s Across world fight laws: “We’re not deadbeats!”

Ned Holstein, founder of Fathers and Families, a U.S. fathers’ rights group, says one problem is jackpot-sized child support awards.

“One of the things that is happening in some states is the amounts are so high they are basically winning the lottery for the custodial parent,” he told me. “Then the bitterness lingers because every two weeks, or every month, one of the parties is writing a check they know is excessive, unnecessary, and not what the child needs.”

While super-sized child support payouts make headlines, the census reports that of $35.1bn in child support due in 2009, payments averaged $3,630 per custodial parent – $302/month.

One thing is for sure, however. The parents who don’t have custody — 80 percent of whom are fathers — are struggling to make the payments. And what happens to “deadbeat dads” if they donít pay? They go to jail. Where they canít earn money to pay their child support.

Ned Holstein: “It’s an iron fist system…”
In the News
Sanction Mothers for Violating Child Contact Orders

More Women Paying Child Support and Alimony

‘Worst Moms Ever’

Current State of Parenting in the U.S.

Queen Sides with Fathers and Children


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National Executive Director



Mission
Fathers and Families improves the lives of children and strengthens society by protecting the child’s right to the love and care of both parents after separation or divorce. We seek better lives for children through family court reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers.




Vision
Fathers and Families’ vision is a society in which:
  • Children are happier and more successful because their loving bonds are protected after parental separation or divorce:

  • Children have a natural right to be nurtured and guided by both parents:

  • Society treats fathers and mothers as equally important to the wellbeing of their children:

  • Shared parenting after separation or divorce is the norm:

  • The courts arrange finances after separation or divorce so that both mothers and fathers can afford to house and care for their children and themselves: and

  • Our society understands and respects the essential role of fathers.


Core Principles
Our core principles are:
  • Shared Parenting: Shared parenting protects children’s best interests and the loving bonds children share with both parents after separation or divorce.

  • Parental Equality: Equality between genders has been extended to every corner of American society, with one huge exception: family courts and the related agencies.

  • Respect for Human and Property Rights: The Supreme Court of the United States has found that “the interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children... is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court.”

Fathers and Families
Fathers and Families
PO Box 270760
Boston, Massachusetts 02127-0760
(617) 542-9300
www.fathersandfamilies.org
[email protected]

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