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Linda Wright, chairperson of the Michigan chapter of the National Parents Organization, said it is difficult to ascertain who is the better parent based on the best interest factors when “a lot of custody cases” are decided after “10 minutes in front of a judge,” who cannot get an accurate picture of the family dynamics in such a short time.

“The current law is not working,” she said. “… Without there being a standard, it really doesn’t depend on who is the best parent. It depends on what judge you have and what county you’re in.

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Studies and statistics disagree with the court’s antiquated tradition of awarding sole custody a great majority of the time (U.S. Census stats show mothers receive sole custody more than 80 percent of the time). If mothers are better for singularly raising their children, why do federal statistics show that these children account for 63 percent of teen suicides? Why are we not outraged that 71 percent of kids who drop out of high school are from single-mother homes? Why should we not address the fact that 85 percent of those in prison come from fatherless homes? Why would anyone not want to fix this crisis?

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Children in shared custody arrangements “do considerably better on every measure, from school success, to fewer teen pregnancies and drug use, to having optimism for the future,” said Dr. Ned Holstein, a public health practitioner and founder of the National Parents Organization(natioalparentsorganization.org), which aims to reform family court practices.

Holstein noted that in the past year, Missouri and Kentucky have passed “excellent shared parenting legislation,” following states including Utah, Arizona and Alaska.

“If you want to hasten the process of healing, or at least tolerance, the worst thing you can do is declare one person a winner and one person a loser,” he said.

“You’re both winners. You’re both going to be parents. That will actually diminish conflict.”

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When his son, Lucas, was born in 2014, William Chen created a Facebook page to capture the most special moments of his child's life -- everything from ultrasounds to smiling baby pictures to tiny Lucas posing in front of a monster truck. "He's a bundle of joy," Chen said. "He's literally my mini-me." When Chen and Lucas's mother got divorced, she was awarded custody of their son and Chen's posts on the page became less frequent. It wasn't until April 12 that Kentucky parents like Chen received a new way to fight for equal time with their children. House Bill 492, signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin, created a presumption of joint -- rather than singular -- custody when couples with children divorce.

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Our nation’s antiquated family courts are standing in the way of women’s advancement in the workplace. Treating mothers as homemakers (and fathers only as breadwinners who pay child support) keeps women in a position of dependency and is out of touch with modern society.

Shared parenting is the solution; it’s a flexible arrangement where children spend as close to equal time as possible with each parent after separation or divorce. The arrangement allows mothers significantly more time and opportunity to pursue careers than the status quo “sole-custody-to-the-mother” arrangement, plus, it’s important to note that it treats mothers and fathers equally.

What’s more, shared parenting is not only better for women who want career advancement, but it also has been convincingly shown to be better for children, too. Research overwhelmingly shows children need and want both parents in their lives. The American Psychological Association published research in the journal “Psychology, Public Policy and Law” that showed strong support for equal parenting time of young children.

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Viewing men as breadwinners and women as homemakers represents an antiquated way of thinking. 

Thankfully, The Wall Street Journal recently brought attention to this with the article, "How Can the U.S. Get More Women in the Workforce? Ask Canada." As the title suggests, Canada has a significantly higher percentage of women in the workforce compared to the U.S., and the article examines what the U.S. can do to follow in Canada's footsteps to increase its percentage.

However, the article omits a crucial answer to the question posed by the headline: make shared parenting the norm after divorce or separation. With Women's Equality Day having been this Saturday, Aug. 26, now is the time to act.

The reality is that our nation's family courts still award sole custody to mothers in more than 80 percent of child custody cases. While this feels like a custody battle "victory" at first, over the course of time, mothers realize that they have been trapped in the homemaker role – a place far, far away from the workforce. Our nation's antiquated family courts are standing in the way of women's advancement in the workplace. Treating mothers as homemakers (and fathers only as breadwinners who pay child support) keeps women in a position of dependency and is out of touch with modern society.

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According to Matt Hale, chairman of the Kentucky chapter of the National Parents Organization, the new law isn't just beneficial for parents like Chen -- it helps children, too.

"Research says children are less likely to do drugs or have premarital sex, and they're better (prepared) to have good outcomes," he said.

Hale added he hopes Ohio will pass a similar law to help families affected by divorce.

"There was a lot of heartache and a lot of families that suffered before the new law," he said. "Before that, parents had to fight each other to win or possibly lose their children. That led to a lot of legal bills and a lot of children not getting to see their parents."

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Millions of children are raised in the United States in single parent sole-custody living arrangements. A tweak to family law that would open the door to more shared parenting arrangements would significantly improve outcomes in American schools and quality of life in society generally, according to an advocacy group active in the policy area.

Ned Holstein is the founder and chair of the board of the National Parents Organization, a group that is pushing state lawmakers and the courts to consider the benefits of promoting shared parenting between estranged biological parents. Holstein, who spoke with InsideSources by telephone, previously was appointed by the Governor Deval Patrick to serve on a family law working group in Massachusetts. 

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Currently, many family courtrooms remain on autopilot, where they continue the cookie cutter order of sole custody to the mother and every other weekend with the dad. In most cases, the goal should not be to determine which parent is the “better” parent. Rather, it should be how to enable these children to keep substantial relationships with both parents.

There is hope. More than 20 states have considered shared parenting legislation in recent years, according to the Wall Street Journal. What’s more, shared parenting is the norm in many areas outside the United States, including Sweden. Plus, research throughout the globe presented at this spring’s International Conference on Shared Parenting was overwhelmingly supportive of the two-parent model.

It’s time for parents to start thinking about what’s in the best interest of their children. It’s time for our family courts to change the norm. It’s time for Michigan’s House and Senate to pass this bill, and time Gov. Rick Snyder signs it. Sole custody of children should be the last resort, not the standard.

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Michigan legislators are working on a solution for our state’s children. Before the state legislature paused for summer break, the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee passed HB 4691, which is sponsored by Rep. Jim Runestad. The bill places Michigan in line to follow in the footsteps of states including Kentucky and Missouri, which have recently passed laws supportive of shared parenting – a flexible arrangement where children spend as close to equal time with each parent as possible after divorce or separation.

This legislation is aimed at changing the current winner-take-all landscape that forces a terrific parent, usually the father, almost completely out of the picture and into a role that more resembles a visitor.

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As a mother and grandmother, I’ve witnessed first-hand the struggles wonderful fathers face while fighting for time with their children in the Michigan family court system. The cards are stacked against them.

Time and time again, fathers lose custody battles because the status quo in the courts say one parent, most times the mother, is better for the children. Why is losing one parent even a consideration? When children have two fit, willing, and able parents, why not keep both? Just because the parents separate, why are the children forced to lose one of them? It’s 2017, not 1917 — gender roles are a thing of the past. If mothers want to be the primary breadwinners, they can be. If fathers want to be stay-at-home dads — more power to them.

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When we make separated parenting a winner-takes-all process, it’s no wonder so many good people go through tough divorces.

Common sense tells us that when parents separate it is best to keep both parents fully involved in the children’s lives. And there is now a wealth of social science strongly supporting that conclusion.

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Ten-year-old Ava and 10-year-old Suzie live a few miles apart. Both their sets of parents are unfortunately divorcing. Ava will likely have difficulties, but adjust pretty well while staying connected to her mom and dad. Suzie, however, will probably watch her parents fight terribly as they spend more on legal bills than necessary. Eventually, one of Suzie’s parents, most likely her dad, will basically be removed from her life.

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Common sense tells us that when parents separate it’s best to keep both parents fully involved in the children’s lives. And there is now a wealth of social science strongly supporting that conclusion. For example, Dr. Linda Nielsen, a leading expert on parenting after divorce, reported, based on analysis of over 40 peer-reviewed studies, that “Recent research does not support the idea that conflict — including high legal conflict — should rule out joint physical custody as the arrangement that best serves children’s interests.” In other words, even if the parents don’t both agree to shared parenting, it’s still generally best for children.

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Meanwhile, several family law experts believed that #Shared Parentingcould stop and help prevent the tragic consequences of parental alienation. National Parents Organization founder Dr. Ned Holsteinexplained that the concept promotes spending equal time and loving care (among the parents and the children) so, it would be hard to turn a child against any parent.

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Ten-year-old Ava and ten-year-old Suzie live a few miles apart. Both their sets of parents are unfortunately divorcing. Ava will likely have difficulties but adjust pretty well while staying connected to her mom and dad. Suzie, however, will probably watch her parents fight terribly as they spend more on legal bills than necessary. Eventually, one of Suzie’s parents, most likely her dad, will basically be removed from her life.

What will cause the huge difference in the girls’ lives?

Each girl loves both her parents –and all the parents are good caregivers. The difference is caused, believe it or not, by the few miles between them. Ava lives in Kentucky where divorcing children get to see both parents equally. Suzie lives in Ohio where the law forces parents to fight tooth and nail to “win” custody of her if they are to continue in their full parenting role.

Kentucky’s law for divorcing families has a presumption that both parents have equal decision making (“joint custody”) and parenting time. This arrangement is true shared parenting. Decades of scientific research show this is usually the best arrangement for children in separating families. Kentucky’s law excludes parents who are likely to abuse or neglect a child, of course. But for the vast majority of families, both parents — and even more importantly, the children – can be assured of a full continuing parent/child relationship.

However, Ohio’s law is based on choosing a primary custodian. In other words, one of Suzie’s parents stays a real parent. The other one is pushed to the edges of her life and only gets to see her during “visitation.” Suzie wants to stay close to both of her quality parents but the state of Ohio makes this difficult unless the parents both agree to it from the outset. Ohio then tells the parents to put on their boxing gloves and fight with everything they have. It’s no wonder so many good people go through tough divorces.

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The simple solution is children need both their mothers and fathers. A loving father who wants to be present in his child’s life should be allowed to do so regardless of the relationship with the mother. Unless one parent is proven unfit or guilty of abuse or violence, children deserve to retain both of their parents equally.

Currently, many family courtrooms remain on autopilot, where they continue the cookie cutter order of sole custody to the mother and every other weekend with the dad. In most cases, the goal should not be to determine which parent is the “better” parent. Rather, it should be how to enable these children to keep substantial relationships with both parents.

There is hope. More than 20 states have considered shared parenting legislation in recent years, according to the Wall Street Journal. What’s more, shared parenting is the norm in many areas outside the United States, including Sweden. Plus, research throughout the globe presented at this spring’s International Conference on Shared Parenting was overwhelmingly supportive of the two-parent model.

It’s time for parents to start thinking about what’s in the best interest of their children. It’s time for our family courts to change the norm. It’s time for Michigan’s House and Senate to pass this bill, and time Gov. Rick Snyder signs it. Sole custody of children should be the last resort, not the standard.

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As a mother and grandmother, I’ve witnessed first-hand the struggles wonderful fathers face while fighting for time with their children in the Michigan family court system. The cards are stacked against them.

Time and time again, fathers lose custody battles because the courts say one parent, most times the mother, is better for the children. Why is losing one parent even a consideration? When children have two fit, willing, and able parents, why not keep both? Just because the parents separate, why are the children forced to lose one of them? It’s 2017, not 1917 — gender roles are a thing of the past. If mothers want to be the primary breadwinners, they can be. If fathers want to be stay-at-home dads — more power to them.

Luckily, Michigan legislators are working on a solution for our state’s children. Before the Legislature paused for summer break, the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee passed HB 4691, which is sponsored by Rep. Jim Runestad. The bill places Michigan in line to follow in the footsteps of states including Kentucky and Missouri, which have recently passed laws supportive of shared parenting — a flexible arrangement where children spend as close to equal time with each parent as possible after divorce or separation.

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A new law grants the wishes of many Kentucky children by bringing them what they need most following divorce: both parents.

Effective this month, the state has a new law on temporary child custody orders, which are the starting point for separating families. Kentucky’s House and Senate unanimously approved the changes to Kentucky Statute 403.280 making joint custody and equal parenting time the presumption in temporary child custody hearings during divorce processes. Simply put, custody conversations will begin with the two-parent model.

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Not all holidays are created to sell greeting cards and flowers. Many are started to bring attention to something that our society needs to address. Parental Alienation Awareness Day, which hits in the spring, was designed to do just that – make more people aware of how children are harmed when they are alienated from one parent and how to prevent our family courts from becoming unwitting perpetrators of this offense. As the year charges on, we must continue to address this unfortunate reality.

Parent alienation – characterized by behaviors that intentionally damage the relationship a parent has with a child – is an increasingly common form of abuse. It can affect intact families but is much more common among children affected by separation or divorce. To decrease the rates of parental alienation affecting our children, it is time Virginia updates its laws to support shared parenting.

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National Parents Organization”/seasoned reporter Robert Franklin said that CPS was being defiant against Senator Rick Murphy‘s, and that CPS did not have genuine concerns about his parenting skills.

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“Children are now more likely to see both parents regularly after a divorce, which is a huge win for the children of Kentucky, considering research consistently shows shared parenting is in the best interest of children when their parents divorce,” Hale said.

“Plus, parents are no longer in the high-conflict winner-win-all and loser-lose-all situation.”

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“Children are now more likely to see both parents regularly after a divorce, which is a huge win for the children of Kentucky, considering research consistently shows shared parenting is in the best interest of children when their parents divorce,” Hale said. “Plus, parents are no longer in the high-conflict winner win all and loser lose all situation.”

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According to Ned Holstein of the National Parents Organization shared parenting should be implemented as a rebuttable presumption in a manner that creates incentives for parents to cooperate in raising a child.

He believes that, “Mental health professionals can play a very positive and satisfying role in this transition. They should already be 
counseling their patients in troubled relationships that their children will more likely do better with shared parenting, as hard as that may be for the parent to accept given the anger and hurt during separation and divorce. Professional efforts currently devoted to identifying a sole custodial parent on the basis of small differences in parental abilities may instead be used to help parents navigate cooperative parenting or parallel parenting. It will be far more satisfying to help families make the adjustments that result in more harmonious post-nuclear-family relationships, and to see happy children as a result, than to assist the court in picking winners and losers. Any shared parenting legislation should provide for the financing of post-court family counseling services, which in one way or another can replace the funds currently used for custody evaluations.”

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