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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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Charitable bodies such as the National Parents Organization have criticized family law, noting that it is not configured to ensure that boys (and girls) spend the necessary time with their fathers. These advocates have lobbied for serious family law reform, mainly for a model known as ‘shared parenting’, which would mean children spend 50/50 time with each parent.  However, shared parenting remains uncommon in North America, even though research shows that this is beneficial for the children concerned.

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Linda Wright, of the National Parent's Organization in Michigan, earlier this month said she saw the ill effects of a single parent family when her husband died in 1998.

"While we can't protect our children from the loss of a parent resulting from death, we certainly have the ability and responsibility to do everything possible to prevent the loss of a parent that occurs through divorce," she said. "The children are innocenvictims here."

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I’d like to recognize the millions of fathers who are fighting for shared parenting – the right to continue to be active and loving dads after separating or divorce. It is not just about your “rights,” although there is no reason a good father should not have the same rights as a good mother. It is also about what is best for your children, since over 50 research studies from numerous countries show that children with shared parenting on average have much better lives than the millions of children in the sole custody of one parent.

U.S. Census data shows our family courts still favor sole custody to mom more than 80 percent of the time, despite the similarity of gender roles in modern couples. So the battle for legal equality in family court feels like a frustrating and uphill battle. But dads, don’t give up. For the sake of one-third of our nation’s children (that’s how many kids are now affected by child custody issues), I encourage you to keep up this good fight – and here are five of the many reasons why.

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"Michigan's Big Show" interviews National Parents Organization's Linda Wright on Michigan's Shared Parenting Bill

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A watershed moment in children’s welfare occurred in Boston two weeks ago. Remarkably, that moment had much to do with an important moment in Nebraska just two weeks earlier. Both moments are important for Fathers’ Day.

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There is more that can be done about the opioid crisis in Massachusetts that is effective, non-punitive and free to the taxpayer. Governor Charlie Baker’s commendable leadership on this surging problem has resulted in the passage of legislation strengthening prescribing laws and increasing education. This is important. But a powerful opportunity has so far been overlooked.

A clue is to be found in federal statistics: 75 percent of children in chemical abuse centers have been raised by single parents. This is no criticism of single parents who are trying hard, but strongly suggests that parenting arrangements do matter. Abundant research confirms this hunch. While out-of-wedlock births and separation and divorce of parents are likely to continue at high rates, the research shows that shared parenting when parents are apart is associated with lower drug abuse rates, as well as many other improvements for children.

Shared parenting is an arrangement in which the children of parents living apart spend at least 35% of the time with each parent, and as close to equal time as possible; it is not appropriate unless both parents are fit and there has been no significant domestic violence.

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There is more that can be done about the opioid crisis in Massachusetts that is effective, non-punitive and free to the taxpayer. Governor Charlie Baker’s commendable leadership on this surging problem has resulted in the passage of legislation strengthening prescribing laws and increasing education. This is important. But a powerful opportunity has so far been overlooked.

A clue is to be found in federal statistics: 75 percent of children in chemical abuse centers have been raised by single parents. This is no criticism of single parents who are trying hard, but strongly suggests that parenting arrangements do matter. Abundant research confirms this hunch. While out-of-wedlock births and separation and divorce of parents are likely to continue at high rates, the research shows that shared parenting when parents are apart is associated with lower drug abuse rates, as well as many other improvements for children.

Shared parenting is an arrangement in which the children of parents living apart spend at least 35% of the time with each parent, and as close to equal time as possible; it is not appropriate unless both parents are fit and there has been no significant domestic violence.

This solution requires only a small change in the custody laws. In fact, the Massachusetts House passed such a law last year, but the Senate took no action before adjourning for the year. The reformed custody bill was written by a blue-ribbon Working Group previously appointed by Governor Deval Patrick on which I was honored to serve. Prospects for the bill this year are uncertain. Opposition from the politically powerful bar associations, whose members profit from unnecessary custody battles, remains a major factor.

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If only the family courts could be as grateful as therapists and doctors are for dads who share parenting duties, said Dr. Ned Holstein, founder of the National Parents Organization (NPO). Holstein is referring to what some have called ''father bias,'' or the age-old tendency of judges to grant mothers sole custody of children after divorce.

Holstein has spent the last 20 years advocating for shared parenting. But the courts continue to push back. ''In two decades, custody statistics have barely budged. More often, moms get sole custody,'' Holstein told us in a recent interview. His NPO continues to fight so children of divorce can have the love and nurturing of both parents.

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Scholars from around the world are expected to gather in Boston to present research results on how shared parenting after divorce or separation affects children.

The International Conference on Shared Parenting will be held Monday and Tuesday at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in downtown Boston. The National Parents Organization and the European-based International Council on Shared Parenting will serve as hosts.

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Scholars from around the world are expected to gather in Boston to present research results on how shared parenting after divorce or separation affects children.

The International Conference on Shared Parenting will be held Monday and Tuesday at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in downtown Boston. The National Parents Organization and the European-based International Council on Shared Parenting will serve as hosts.

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Scholars from around the world are expected to gather in Boston to present research results on how shared parenting after divorce or separation affects children.

The International Conference on Shared Parenting will be held Monday and Tuesday at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in downtown Boston. The National Parents Organization and the European-based International Council on Shared Parenting will serve as hosts.

Find more

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Scholars from around the world are expected to gather in Boston to present research results on how shared parenting after divorce or separation affects children.

The International Conference on Shared Parenting will be held Monday and Tuesday at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in downtown Boston. The National Parents Organization and the European-based International Council on Shared Parenting will serve as hosts.

Find more

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Scholars from around the world are expected to gather in Boston to present research results on how shared parenting after divorce or separation affects children.

The International Conference on Shared Parenting will be held Monday and Tuesday at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in downtown Boston. The National Parents Organization and the European-based International Council on Shared Parenting will serve as hosts.

Find more

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Scholars from around the world are expected to gather in Boston to present research results on how shared parenting after divorce or separation affects children.

The International Conference on Shared Parenting will be held Monday and Tuesday at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in downtown Boston. The National Parents Organization and the European-based International Council on Shared Parenting will serve as hosts.

Find more

Share this post

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Scholars from around the world are expected to gather in Boston to present research results on how shared parenting after divorce or separation affects children.

The International Conference on Shared Parenting will be held Monday and Tuesday at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in downtown Boston. The National Parents Organization and the European-based International Council on Shared Parenting will serve as hosts.

Find more

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