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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This outdated arrangement is called “sole custody,” where one parents owns (has custody of) the children.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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During Military Family Appreciation Month, National Parents Organization joins the rest of the nation to express gratitude to our military families for their service and sacrifice. While deployment is certainly challenging enough on its own, that stress can increase drastically when military parents are also dealing with child custody battles following a divorce or separation. National Parents Organization believes an additional way to provide support and appreciation for military families is not to make child custody decisions while a parent is deployed.

"The child development research is now crystal clear that children do best when their loving bonds with each parent are protected after parents separate or divorce," says Ned Holstein, MD, founder of National Parents Organization. "Unfortunately, some active duty service members have found that the custody of their children has been changed in important ways while they were serving their country overseas and unable to be present in family court. Sometimes when they return from overseas duty, they cannot even find their children."

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During Military Family Appreciation Month, National Parents Organization has joined the rest of the nation to express gratitude to our military families for their service and sacrifice. While deployment is certainly challenging enough on its own, that stress can increase drastically when military parents are also dealing with child custody battles following a divorce or separation. National Parents Organization believes an additional way to provide support and appreciation for military families is not to make child custody decisions while a parent is deployed.

“The child development research is now crystal clear that children do best when their loving bonds with each parent are protected after parents separate or divorce,” says Ned Holstein, MD, founder of National Parents Organization. “Unfortunately, some active duty service members have found that the custody of their children has been changed in important ways while they were serving their country overseas and unable to be present in family court. Sometimes when they return from overseas duty, they cannot even find their children.”

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While deployment is certainly challenging enough on its own, that stress can increase drastically when military parents are also dealing with child custody battles, especially if one of the parents is deployed far away.

An additional way to provide support and appreciation for military families is through shared parenting rights, regardless of whether a parent is deployed.

Shared parenting is a flexible arrangement in which children spend as close to equal time with each parent as possible following a divorce or separation, and is appropriate if there has been no domestic violence and both parents are fit. A growing body of research has shown that shared parenting is in the best interests of children, even those who are very young. Children who have meaningful contact with both parents are shown to be happier and healthier and do better in school than kids raised by single parents in traditional custody arrangements.

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Parents are about to find out if they have protected constitutional rights in divorce and whether the Texas family code violates those rights.

Ron and Sherry Palmer accomplished what attorneys told them would be impossible, the Eastern District Federal Court accepted their brief on Thursday, February 25, 2016, that cites their family court judges ignore parental rights and children’s rights and that the Texas family code violates the constitutional rights of parents and children, in Palmer et al v. Paxton Jr., et al,. Parents and attorneys had not been able to be heard by the federal courts on these constitutional violations before this, told instead they were barred by numerous abstention doctrines like Rooker-Feldman, Pullman, and Younger.

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National Parents Organization recognizes the goals of the National Domestic Violence Awareness Month year-round by raising awareness of the tragic impact domestic violence has on many families throughout the nation. As President Obama has said, domestic violence impacts "women, men, and children of every age, background, and belief."

National Parents Organization will continue to support shared parenting (50/50 custody) when parents divorce or separate only in cases where domestic violence is not an issue. The organization's leadership urges others to also join in the fight against domestic violence by supporting shared parenting.

International experts have concluded that shared parenting can help reduce domestic violence. At the 2015 International Conference on Shared Parenting, which included about 120 research scientists and other experts from more than 20 countries, participants concluded that "…shared parenting [after parental separation or divorce] is recognized as the most effective means for both reducing high parental conflict and preventing first-time family violence."

This is in stark contrast to the practices of most family courts in the Unites States, which have assumed that shared parenting between high conflict parents after separation or divorce is dangerous and should not be tried. National Parents Organization is pleased that a handful of states -- including Missouri, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Minnesota, and South Dakota -- have implemented laws that encourage shared parenting. More than 20 states have considered similar proposals in the last year.

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Being a single parent can be a cognitive tax for very many parents and for a variety of reasons. Most people who have children have them with a partner or a spouse. It is no doubt easier to have two (or more) people raise kids together than being all alone and doing everything from pickups and snow or hurricane days to spending seventeen hours in the ER on a weeknight.

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Just as it seemed the economy was finally emerging from the grip of the great recession and salaries were rising across the board, along comes the Global Gender Gap Report from the Word Economic Forum showing that the pay gap between men and women has actually widened in the last year and, if current trends continue, it will take 170 years to reach wage parity. But one key to closing that gap is not necessarily in the office.

Begun in 2006, the WEF report studies 144 countries world wide on differences in education, economics, health, and political empowerment. Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden showed the smallest gap.” Despite its network of legal support and advocacy, the US came in at number 45 in wage parity – that’s down from number 28 in 2015. Rwanda fared better. Yemen was last.

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In recent years, shared parenting has become the talk-of-the-town in the United States. The reason? Family experts and some legislators strongly advocated that an egalitarian approach to parenting is the most ideal concept for families who are in the middle of divorce or separation.

Not only does it promotes equal sharing of parental duties and responsibilities, shared parenting is also considered the best approach and the commonsense solution as it prioritizes the well-being and best interests of both the parents and the children. Despite some skepticisms, shared parenting has become the recent trend in the United States, wherein several states including Missouri, Nevada, South Dakota, Utah, Minnesota and Arizona have passed their own version of this somewhat controversial child custody concept, with more than 20 U.S. states having the same proposals.

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When a couple with children divorces or separates, the ensuing custody battle often affects more than just the immediate family. Extended family can be impacted as well – especially grandparents, who typically long to spend as much time with their grandchildren as possible.

Marian McQuade was a housewife from West Virginia who was concerned for the lonely elderly. Marian’s vision was for grandchildren to benefit from the wisdom and heritage of their grandparents, and for grandparents to have meaningful and fulfilling relationships with their grandchildren. She served on the West Virginia Commission on Aging and the Nursing Home Licensing Board, and she also founded National Grandparents Day in 1978.

Today, Marian's vision of meaningful and fulfilling intergenrational relationships faces a sad impediment. We at National Parents Organization of Virginia support Marian's vision and are working to help realize it the way she intended.

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Grown children leaving home is a normal human transition and one to which most parents eventually adjust.

But what happens when children are removed from their parents’ homes too soon, before either parent or child is ready – when the child is 7 instead of 17? This is the sad reality for many parents following a divorce.

Children also suffer when they’re prevented from seeing one of their parents frequently. Federal statistics show that children raised by single parents are significantly more likely to drop out of school, wind up in prison, abuse alcohol and drugs, develop psychological problems or commit suicide.

Shared parenting – a flexible arrangement in which children spend as close to equal time as possible with each parent after a divorce, if both parents are fit – decreases parental conflict and domestic violence while increasing child support payments, as well as voluntary payments for college.

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When an unmarried couple with children breaks up, it is often a matter of packing boxes, divvying up property, and maybe getting an order for child support from a local court.

Unlike a divorcing couple, their split is not typically guided by legal standards that dictate how much money they owe each other, or how much time they get to spend with their kids once they separate. And, particularly for unmarried fathers, that lack of legal oversight can mean a long fight for custody of their children.

States are starting to more closely examine custody arrangements for children born out of marriage, which have traditionally favored mothers, either by law or default, to give fathers a greater role in raising their children. Studies indicate that consistent paternal involvement can result in more child-support payments, and better mental health and academic results for the children.

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When an unmarried couple with children breaks up, it is often a matter of packing boxes, divvying up property, and maybe getting an order for child support from a local court.

Unlike a divorcing couple, their split is not typically guided by legal standards that dictate how much money they owe each other, or how much time they get to spend with their kids once they separate. And, particularly for unmarried fathers, that lack of legal oversight can mean a long fight for custody of their children.

States are starting to more closely examine custody arrangements for children born out of marriage, which have traditionally favored mothers, either by law or default, to give fathers a greater role in raising their children. Studies indicate that consistent paternal involvement can result in more child-support payments, and better mental health and academic results for the children.

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Nevada has moved from being among the worst states for shared parenting laws to being in the top third. Shared parenting is a flexible arrangement where children spend as close to equal time with each parent as possible after divorce or separation if both parents are fit. It has been shown to be highly beneficial to most children. The changes in the Nevada custody law were brought about by Nevada’s Parental Rights Protection Act of 2015.

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When an unmarried couple with children breaks up, it is often a matter of packing boxes, divvying up property, and maybe getting an order for child support from a local court. 

Unlike a divorcing couple, their split is not typically guided by legal standards that dictate how much money they owe each other, or how much time they get to spend with their kids once they separate. And, particularly for unmarried fathers, that lack of legal oversight can mean a long fight for custody of their children.

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Successful divorces are not an oxymoron. Studies show they are a likely outcome when the best interests of children are the main priority for all concerned. Missouri legislators should take a bow for passing a new law that helps ensure more successful divorces by giving fathers more consideration in divorce custody decisions.

More doesn’t mean more than the mother; it simply means equal to her when it comes time for a judge to decide physical custody.

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Faune Riggin of the KZIM KSIM Morning Meeting, based in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, intervewed Linda Reutzel, National Parents Organization of Missouri member, about the passage of HB 1550, Missouri's shared parenting bill, which took effect Aug. 28.

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