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Two opposing groups merged into one loud protest Tuesday at Gov. Rick Scott's office.

Opponents and supporters of SB 668 wanted to advise Scott on the bill, which sets new guidelines for alimony and child custody cases. But Scott was out of town.

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Generally, men pay alimony, and women are granted primary custody. The ongoing debate over alimony generally falls along the same lines. When feuding protestors filled the governor’s office Tuesday, predictably, tempers ran high. Debate devolved into shouting matches, going head to head as they waited for a meeting with the governor's staff.

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Sitting on Gov. Rick Scott’s desk is a contentious bill setting new guidelines for alimony and child custody arrangements. Of the 272 bills the Florida Legislature approved in 2016, SB 668 was the final one sent to Scott.

Critics argue the proposal betrays women and hurts children. Supporters say the legislation updates alimony and custody laws to reflect changing social mores, is gender neutral and will reduce the need for litigation.

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DataCenter.KidsCount.org Whether you’re relocating or need info about your own community, this site has the economic and education data you’re looking for, says Ned Holstein, M.D., founder of the National Parents Organization. Eye-opening feature: how much money your school district spends per student compared with others in the state.

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Gov. Rick Scott holds the power to vastly improve the lives of millions of Florida's children at no cost to taxpayers by signing Senate Bill 668 into law. This bill, which also makes needed reforms to alimony in the age of the two-earner couple, better allows children of divorce to receive what they want and need — equal time with both parents. A large and growing body of research validates their wishes, and I strongly urge our governor to waste no time in signing SB 668, recently passed by the Florida Legislature.

The bill allows mothers and fathers an equal starting point in the time-sharing discussion when first walking into Florida's divorce courtrooms. Specifically, the bill holds that approximately equal time with each parent is in the best interest of children when parents divorce. Assuming the parents haven't already agreed on an alternative arrangement, it also requires judges to produce written findings of fact to justify a parenting plan that does not require close to equal time between parents. This is a reasonable and necessary move that will encourage all judges to follow the overwhelming research on what's best for kids.

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Don Hubin is on the board of the National Parents Organization, he says 47% of the workforce is women and one-third (1/3) of wives out earn their husbands.

So in a lot of families this "stay-at-home dad" setup makes good economic sense.

It also can teach kids that parenting or a marriage is not a competition. 

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"No loving and fit parent should ever lose the inherent right to spend significant, meaningful time with his or her child," said Dr. Ned Holstein, the organization's founder and board chairman.

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More than two million fathers consider themselves "stay at home dads."

Don Hubin is on the board of the National Parents Organization.

He says 47% of the workforce is women and one third of wives out earn their husbands.

So in a lot of families this makes good economic sense.

It also can teach kids that parenting or a marriage is not a competition.

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With International Women’s Day recently passing and Women’s History Month coming to a close, it’s important to remember all throughout the year that not only are women an important part of American society, but also, women and men together are indispensable to our country’s most valuable treasure: our children.

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Divorce can be one of the most stressful things a person can go through in life, and although oftentimes older kids have an easier time handling it, divorce can shake every family member up. According to a recent study, nearly 45% of marriages end in divorce, leaving quite a few kids confused and upset.

Regardless of the nature of your divorce, there are ways to help kids cope with the fact that mommy and daddy won’t be together anymore.

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For the last four years, Gilbert Tso has been fighting to prove he is a fit parent after he and his wife divorced and he began seeking custody of their daughter, but the battle over how much time each parent should get wasn’t cheap.

"We basically spent a tremendous amount of families' assets on lawyers and psychologists,” said Tso.

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National Parents Organization applauds Colorado legislators who are acting on numerous U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have established parenting as a fundamental right and liberty interest.

Colorado legislators joined the national movement to reform the family courts and support shared parenting – a flexible arrangement in which children spend as close to equal time as possible with each parent after separation or divorce – with the filing of the Parent’s Bill of Rights, HB16-1110. The bill establishes parental rights as a fundamental liberty interest and a fundamental right, which encourages family courts to make shared parenting the norm when parents divorce or separate.

The move could be a significant change, considering shared parenting occurs less than 20 percent of the time after separation or divorce, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Thank you, Colorado legislators, for standing up for the crucial yet all-too-often violated rights of parents,” said Dr. Ned Holstein, MD, Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization. “No loving and fit parent should ever lose the inherent right to spend significant, meaningful time with his or her child — as research, and common sense have told us many times over.”

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Maybe it's for financial reasons or personal but more and more fathers are staying home.

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With National Single Parent Day on Monday, March 21, National Parents Organization urges citizens and legislators nationwide to recognize the day by supporting shared parenting legislation in numerous states.
 
“Right now, most children of divorce have just one single parent, plus one ‘visitor.’ With shared parenting, they get not just one, but two single parents – two for the price of one,” said Dr. Ned Holstein, MD, MS, Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization.

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"Whether it's trouble with the law, delinquency, dropping out of school, those problems are not getting better, they're getting worse," said Dr. Ned Holstein of the National Parents Organization. "There's now a mountain of evidence showing that children do better after the parents separate or divorce if they have both parents involved."

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The founder and board chairman of the National Parents Organization, Ned Holstein supports Scott signing the bill to become a law. He said that it will improve children's grades, decrease teen pregnancy as well as their use of alcohol and drugs.

"I don't understand why he would not sign it," he said. "What's not to like?"

Based on the research done by the US Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Justice and the Census Bureau, 90 percent of runaway and homeless youth and 71 percent of high school drop-outs were children raised by a single parent.

"What used to be taught decades ago was that kids needed one home after divorce," Holstein said. "That sounds sort of nice. But it's a slogan, and it wasn't based on research."

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It’s been about 40 years since the majority of moms stayed home, and married dads in the 21st century spend twice as much time caring for their children as they did back then.

Yet when parents divorce or separate, custody arrangements are more likely to reflect life as it was in 1975, with the mother as the primary caretaker and the father working to help support a child he seldom sees.

As fathers become more vocal about what they see as inequities in custody cases — and as more research shows how important it is for fathers to be present in their children’s lives — states are considering changing their custody laws.

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The Florida Legislature passed a bill March 8 that would make shared parenting — an arrangement in which children spend equal time with each parent after divorce — the norm in Florida, rather than sole custody.

Following passage by the Senate and House of Representatives, the bill now awaits Gov. Rick Scott’s signature.

Ned Holstein, founder and board chairman of the National Parents Organization, said he supports Scott signing the bill into law.

Shared parenting improves children’s grades, decreases their use of drugs and alcohol and reduces rates of teen pregnancy, he said.

“I don’t understand why he would not sign it,” he said. “What’s not to like?”

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A bill that would set a formula for the duration and amount of alimony and end permanent alimony was passed by the Florida Legislature and now awaits Gov. Rick Scott's signature.

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Big changes to family law in Florida are just one signature away.  

A bill that would change alimony for divorcing couples is headed to Governor Rick Scott's desk after passing through the Senate last week and the House on Tuesday.

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“Thank you, Maryland lawmakers, for standing up for what children most want and need. I urge all state legislators to waste no time in moving this historic proposal forward,” said Dr. Ned Holstein, MD, Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization. “Millions of American children are suffering from the outmoded practices of the family courts of awarding custody to just one parent, with only a few days per month of parenting time with the other parent. This custody model is not in the best interest of most children. It causes heartache for children, who ardently desire the love and guidance of both parents. And such children do more poorly in school, have higher rates of substance abuse, drop out more frequently, and have higher rates of delinquency, gang activity and trouble with the law.” 

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Sole custody of children became the court's model when divorce became frequent in the 60s and 70s. In recent years, however, co-parenting has made headway as an alternative to the current model.

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"Whether it's trouble with the law, delinquency, dropping out of school, those problems are not getting better, they're getting worse," said Dr. Ned Holstein of the National Parents Organization.  "There's now a mountain of evidence showing that children do better after the parents separate or divorce if they have both parents involved."

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As a mother and grandmother, I've felt the pain Missouri's broken family court system inflicts on families. Children are hurting. Parents are hurting. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents -- everyone's hurting.

All this because our courts continue rubber stamping the outdated primary residential custody parenting model after divorce or separation, despite an overwhelming amount of research showing children need and want equal access to both parents. Thankfully, Missouri legislators are currently considering legislation that aligns with research and stands to turn families' pain into joy. HB 2055, sponsored by Kathy Swan of Cape Girardeau, and SB 964, sponsored by Wayne Wallingford, also of Cape Girardeau, encourage our state's courts to award shared parenting -- a flexible arrangement where children spend as close to equal time as possible with each parent -- when both parents are fit and there has been no domestic violence, and I urge all lawmakers to support this crucial proposal.

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