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Since 1987, we have celebrated Women’s HistoryMonth in March. Described in Wikipedia, “Women‘s History Month is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.” Women have fought against traditional roles that society imposed upon them and fought for rights granted to men. As we honor women’s success in the march towards gender equality, it is important to highlight that areas of inequality remain in our society. Specifically, and perhaps shockingly to those not familiar with divorce and child custody, much remains to be done in reforming Virginia Family Courts, which sadly remain a bastion of outmoded and biased thinking. This leads to destructive outcomes not only for parents, but also, more devastatingly, for children.

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In 1984, President Reagan issued a proclamation designating March 21 as National Single Parents Day, and in doing so, he stated, “Single parents can and do provide children with the financial, physical, emotional, and social support they need to take their places as productive and mature citizens.  With the active interest and support of friends, relatives and local communities, they can do even more to raise their children in the best environment possible.”

Today, evidence showing shared parenting – a flexible arrangement where children spend as close to equal time as possible with each parent – is in the best interest of children is overwhelming. Child development experts published by the American Psychological Association were clear in their 2014 consensus report: “Shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages.”

To honor the intent of National Single Parents Day, government officials who value families must do more to support and protect relationships with both parents.

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Missouri lawmakers have the opportunity to improve children's educational achievements, decrease their use of drugs, and improve their overall health and adjustment without any cost to the taxpayer by passing SB 377 and HB 724 into law. With these benefits to hundreds of thousands of Missouri children in mind, National Parents Organization urges legislators to immediately schedule hearings for the proposal with the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Seniors, Families and Children Committee.

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"Passage of this bill will work to ensure that children receive the consistent love and care of not one, but both parents after separation or divorce," said Robert Franklin, who chairs National Parents Organization's Texas affiliate and also serves on the organization's national board. "We can't afford to allow our broken family court system to continue with the sole custody status quo -- our children can't be deprived of either parent any longer. Thank you to Rep. James White, for recognizing this pressing need by sponsoring this crucial legislation."

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But Alan Frisher, chair of the National Parents Organization of Florida, called “the concept of permanent alimony … outdated in today’s society.”

“Alimony recipients must take some responsibility to earn a living after divorce in this day and age,” he said.

The 2017 bills “would provide predictability and consistency for all, plus, divorcing spouses could settle their financial differences out of court versus spending countless dollars on wasteful litigation,” Frisher added.

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Get ready for a rumble: Lawmakers will again tackle the sticky issue of alimony in the 2017 Legislative Session.

Companion bills filed in the House and Senate aim to overhaul state alimony law to toughen the standards by which alimony is granted and changed. That’s despite unsuccessful tries in the last few years.

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While this progress is encouraging, unfortunately there is much ground to make up. Recently the National Parents Organization Shared Parenting Report Card revealed that, nationwide, the custody laws in the U.S. do a poor job of promoting shared parenting. These developments coincide with the publication of a study in Sweden that shows the benefits of shared parenting. Last month, researchers found that children who spend time living with both separated parents are less stressed than those who live with just one.

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According to a recent analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts, there have not been any significant reforms to state laws on custody arrangements for more than 40 years. In 1970, the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act established five criteria to determine the “best interests” of the child. Groups like the National Parents Organization have rallied repeatedly for reforms that respect a child’s right to be nurtured by both parents.

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Florida’s alimony laws were written in a day when women had little economic power, divorce was uncommon, and cohabiting was scandalous. Those days are long gone, but the old-fashioned alimony laws – favoring permanent alimony, until death – linger on.

Current law causes immense hardship for those who must support an ex-spouse until he dies or she dies, even for marriages of less than 10 years, even to healthy spouses who begin collecting at 33 years old. Hard to believe, but true.

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According to a recent analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts, there have not been significant reforms to state laws on custody arrangements for more than 40 years. In 1970, the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act established five criteria to determine the “best interests” of the child. Groups like the National Parents Organization have advocated for reforms that respect a child’s right to be nurtured by both parents.

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Over the past three years, nearly 35 states have considered measures that would change laws that govern which parent receives legal custody of a child following divorce or separation.

While this progress is encouraging, unfortunately there is much ground to make up. Recently the National Parents Organization’s Shared Parenting Report Card revealed that, nationwide, the custody laws in the U.S. do a poor job or promoting shared parenting. These developments coincide with the publication of a study in Sweden that shows the benefits of shared parenting. Last month, researchers found that children that spend time living with both separated parents are less stressed than those that live with just one.

In the study, which was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, researchers examined national data from nearly 150,000 12- and 15-year-old students in either 6th or 9th grade and studied their psychosomatic health problems, including sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, headaches and stomachaches, feeling tense, sad or dizzy. They found that kids living with both parents reported significantly fewer problems than children in sole-custody arrangements.

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Most children of divorced parents who are not locked in conflict do best if they have plenty of time with each of their parents. Nevertheless laws and habits in family courts often leave these children with little access to one of their parents. Dan Deuel does a good job explaining how an ordinary citizen can get effectively involved in changing laws that do not serve families well.

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THIS NEW YEAR is off to a remarkable start. With hundreds of rallies across the country, we know there are a variety of reasons people are tired of injustice, inequality, imbalance, and discrimination.

In our work to reform Virginia’s family courts, we certainly empathize with the emotions and goals of the marchers. Sadly, our family courts remain unchanged from a 1950s dynamic of “women stay home, men stay at work.”

This mindset has led to the status quo of sole child custody after divorce or separation versus shared parenting — a flexible arrangement where a child spends as close to equal time as possible with each parent.

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The National Parents Organization, a group that “seek better lives for children through family court reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers”, is coming out in favor of new alimony reform legislation currently making it’s way through the Florida legislature.

The latest alimony reform bill would allow for more predictability in the Judge’s decision making it easier for the respective parties to financially plan for their lives following divorce but removes a controversial 50-50 child sharing component which drew Governor Rick Scott’s veto pen last year.

“The concept of permanent alimony is outdated in today’s society – alimony recipients must take some responsibility to earn a living after divorce in this day and age,” said Alan Frisher, Chair of National Parents Organization of Florida. “This welcome change would provide predictability and consistency for all, plus, divorcing spouses could settle their financial differences out of court versus spending countless dollars on wasteful litigation.”

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For juridical delicacy, arguably few matters match child custody, and just last year, Missouri’s lawmakers acted to clarify and refine procedures involving that hot-button topic by passing House Bill No. 1550, generally known as just HB 1550.

One problem. As in most legislation, legalese shrouds the nuances and niceties of HB 1550.

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The primary reason divorce is so traumatic for children is that, far too often, they lose one parent in the process. Family courts routinely give sole or primary parenting time to one parent (usually the mother) and marginalize the other (usually the father) in the child’s life. A study conducted for Nebraska found that courts gave sole or primary custody to mothers in 75 percent of cases but to fathers in only 15 percent. Those noncustodial fathers were allowed by the courts to see their kids just 16 percent of the time.

Courts do this despite social science demonstrating that equal or near-equal parenting time for each parent produces the best outcomes for children of divorce. In 2014, Dr. Richard Warshak, author of “Divorce Poison,” analyzed the existing science on the welfare of the children of divorce. His work was endorsed by 110 scientists worldwide working in the field of children’s well-being and parenting time.

Authoritative as Warshak’s work is, the science on the need of children for fathers scarcely stops with it. For decades, we’ve known that fatherlessness is the bane of children and society. Put simply, we should be doing everything in our power to keep fathers in children’s lives.

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Due to the spike of filings that typically occurs in the new year, January has become known as “Divorce Month.” It’s nothing to celebrate. Family cohesion has long been understood to be a bedrock of a safe, productive society.

Beginning in the late 1960s, the institution of no-fault divorce dramatically increased divorce rates. No-fault divorce was what spurred state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, to file a bill that would make divorces harder and more costly to obtain.

Krause’s bill isn’t likely to pass, but whatever its fate, we in Texas and across the country can do a better job of dealing with families when they split up. Specifically, we should make shared parenting the default outcome of every divorce in which children are involved and neither parent is unfit to care for them.

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Are you celebrating the holidays with your children this year?  Are you wondering why I would ask such a question?  For thousands of Virginians, whether or not they spend a holiday with their children depends on the year and details of their custody agreements.

With America’s family courts consistently ordering “primary custody” arrangements, holidays are often big commodities and listed out in many custody arrangements.  While not required in Virginia, this kind of documenting (called a Parenting Plan by some states) is a very important place to start and should be required.  More than 80% of split families are unnecessarily ordered into primary custody arrangements – and only 30% of those have the father as primary custodian.  As more and more data supports the fact that shared parenting, after divorce or separation, benefits children the most, we must ask ourselves: What is taking our family courts so long to catch up to modern research?

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Many of Kentucky’s children are asking us for a Christmas present. They want the gift of seeing both their parents this Christmas. Santa can’t bring this gift, but you and I can.

Children in married families enjoy both their parents. Children in divorced families enjoy whichever parent the court picked. These children may be allowed a short “visit” with their other parent. That is if the chosen parent allows it.

This outdated arrangement is called “sole custody,” where one parents owns (has custody of) the children. Meanwhile, the other parent can see his/her children only at limited times.

However, the better arrangement is called “shared parenting.” In shared parenting, children get to see both parents equally. Instead of a single parent winning, the children do. They win the right to have a constant relationship with both parents.

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A new survey of Maryland voters reveals overwhelming support for shared parenting following divorce.

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Many of Kentucky’s children are asking us for a Christmas present. They want the gift of seeing both their parents this Christmas. Santa can’t bring this gift, but you and I can.

Children in married families enjoy both their parents. Children in divorced families enjoy whichever parent the court picked. These children may be allowed a short “visit” with their other parent. That is if the chosen parent allows it.

This outdated arrangement is called “sole custody,” where one parents owns (has custody of) the children. Meanwhile, the other parent can see his/her children only at limited times.

However, the better arrangement is called “shared parenting.” In shared parenting, children get to see both parents equally. Instead of a single parent winning, the children do. They win the right to have a constant relationship with both parents.

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Earlier this year, Public Policy Polling conducted a survey of 580 Old Line State voters regarding their attitudes toward shared parenting and Maryland law on child custody.

A whopping 79 percent of respondents said they thought fathers and mothers should receive equal treatment by family courts in child custody decisions.

Additionally, 63 percent said they favored changing state law to “create a starting point whereby joint legal and physical custody – commonly referred to as shared parenting – for approximately equal periods of time is viewed as being in the best interests of the child.” Only 15 percent said they opposed such a change.

Not only that, but support for a change in the law crossed all boundaries of gender, race and political persuasion. Substantial majorities of men and women, Republicans and Democrats, whites, African-Americans and other races support reform of child custody laws. By any definition, that’s a landslide victory for shared parenting.

That’s right in line with similar surveys in Canada and the United Kingdom that consistently find 70 to 80 percent of respondents favoring shared parenting.


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The confluence of social science and the wisdom of everyday people has resulted in wave after wave of shared parenting bills before state legislatures. This year alone, some 20 states considered – and three passed –  shared parenting bills.

But despite the studies backing shared parenting and its widespread popular support, Maryland law on child custody is among the worst in the nation. In 2014, when National Parents Organization, the country’s largest organization promoting the benefits of shared parenting, graded each state’s custody law, Maryland’s scored a dismal D -.

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A new survey of Maryland voters reveals overwhelming support for shared parenting following divorce.

Earlier this year, Public Policy Polling conducted a survey of 580 Old Line State voters regarding their attitudes toward shared parenting and Maryland law on child custody.

A whopping 79% of respondents said they thought fathers and mothers should receive equal treatment by family courts in child custody decisions.

Additionally, 63% said they favored changing state law to “create a starting point whereby joint legal and physical custody – commonly referred to as shared parenting – for approximately equal periods of time is viewed as being in the best interests of the child.” Only 15% said they opposed such a change.

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