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According to RT America's broadcast, about half of all American marriages end in divorce with kids caught in the middle. But just how fair are the courts when it comes to custody battles? Holland discusses this with Dr. Ned Holstein, the founder and chairman of the National Parents Organization.

The full broadcast can be viewed here with Holstein appearing at the 14-minute mark.

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More than one in four fathers in the United States who have children 18 or younger now lives apart from their children, according to Pew. 

A movement is growing toward shared parenting or at least collegial “co-parenting” that recognizes the importance of having two parents in children's lives. And in states like Virginia and Kentucky, legislation was recently passed to encourage joint custody.

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Host Kristi Slaughter interviews National Parents Organization of Virginia's Christian Paasch on the shared parenting bill that will become law in Virginia.

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Bretta Z. Lewis has seen her share of custody cases in 18 years as a family law attorney.

Some of her clients think the courts favor mothers over fathers. Some mothers think their chances of getting custody are slim because they don’t make enough money.

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Further, Kentucky politicians’ pride for being the only shared parenting state probably will be very short-lived. Many states are considering strengthening their joint custody laws. In fact, Alabama and Iowa’s Senates have both already passed this year stronger shared parenting bills than Kentucky’s landmark law. Kentucky’s law excludes parents who are found unfit based on a “preponderance of evidence.” In other words, the court will not award a parent joint custody if it believes there is a 51 percent or greater chance the parent is unfit. The Alabama and Iowa (and soon many others I’m sure) bills award shared parenting unless the court believes the parent is unfit based on “clear and convincing evidence,” which is much higher.

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The Bluegrass state's law will help children nationwide in several ways. First, new shared parenting bills will be easier to pass elsewhere now that the precedent is set. Kentucky's law will also touch other states as military parents flow to and from the state.

Our country's military families serving at Fort Knox and Fort Campbell will be among the first to benefit. Interracial children will benefit too. "African Americans are more likely to be treated unfairly in family court. The new shared parenting law will give minority parents and children fairer legal outcomes," said Jason Griffith, the Kentucky National Parents Organization's Minority Outreach Director.

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Mothers are a critical part of our American society and of families. Importantly though, as a society, we must recognize that women and men together are indispensable partners to our country’s most valuable treasure: our children. We need to celebrate our children’s parents — both of them — as often as possible.

Still, in this modern era, people are often surprised to learn just how often courts operate with 1950s assumptions and routinely favor one parent over the other in instances of divorce or separation. Astonishingly, sole custody is awarded to one parent about 83 percent of the time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, thus creating a confrontational dynamic of winner and loser/visitor.

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Sometimes we shared-parenting advocates get the bad rap of being anti-mother. That is so far from the truth.

I’m actually a mother and grandmother, my 94-year-old mother is still living, and I have a daughter who I want to be happy and healthy. Motherhood is a blessing to me, and I will readily admit that the challenges of work and nurturing children at home are hard to handle all the time. Of course, that’s the beauty of shared parenting, sharing those responsibilities.

I have met so many women in the Missouri movement toward shared parenting after divorce who are mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers and aunts. This movement couldn’t have had the success its had without women stepping up to the plate. This played a big part in passing into law a bill supportive of shared parenting in 2016, and this year, a proposal seeking to strengthen that law (HB 1667) passed the House and will be heard on the Senate floor any day now. 

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Those testifying repeatedly called this a “pro-family bill” that didn’t just help fathers or mothers but also the children.

“Research overwhelmingly supports this principle,” said Linda Reutzel. “Equal shared parenting is in the best thing for children…Common sense and research show that the worst thing you can do to a child experiencing the divorce of their parents is to take one of them away.”  

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For decades, it was a woman’s job to raise kids and a man’s job to pay for them. Our family courts are still forcing those gender roles on people, even when they divorce or separate.

We still see courts making mothers the primary custodians over 80 percent of the time. It’s still a woman’s job to raise the kids, married or not. The same courts send fathers the bills. It’s still the man’s job to pay.

Things are quickly changing. A light of hope arose this week in a surprising place. On April 26, Gov. Matt Bevin signed a new child custody law (House Bill 528) that was initiated by the National Parents Organization. The bill passed both chambers of the state legislature overwhelmingly. Republicans and Democrats spoke with one voice, stating that children deserve the best chance in life, and that means equal access to both parents.

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Kentucky is the first state in the country to create a “legal presumption” for joint custody in divorce proceedings.

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The state of Kansas’ new Child Support Evaders program functions as a “most wanted″ of those who are behind on their child support payments: the names and faces of parents deemed the worst offenders have their faces and names posted online, complete with the amount they owe, their last known location and contact information.

This is a solution for families, says Gov. Jeff Colyer. But look closer, and the opposite is true — this program hurts, not helps, Kansas families.

This is detrimental to children and parents for many reasons. 

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The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) claims that we should adopt even more draconian policies to collect child support than we already do by passing the Farm Bill currently before Congress. The National Parents Organization strongly believes that parents should responsibly support their children. But “cracking down” on parents who are poor has a long history of hurting children more than helping them.

Child support policy among the poor does not work for several long-known reasons.

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STANDcast Dwayne Hayes, editor in chief of STAND magazine, is joined by guest Christian Paasch, founder of the Virginia chapter of the National Parents Organization, to discuss shared parenting or shared custody, his experience with the courts, and what states are doing to ensure children have more time with each parent following a separation or divorce. In addition, Christian talks about the work of the National Parents Organization and shares some advice for parents going through the process of ending a relationship.

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The building block of a society is the family. When families break down, thereto goes society.

What is the common denominator that links nearly every social ill in this country? President Barack Obama nailed it when he said the single greatest domestic problem facing this country is the breakdown of the family — i.e. fatherlessness. Broken homes are the source of most of society’s ills. “Unstable homes produce unstable children,” writes Peter Hasson at The Federalist. Children need both parents to grow up well-adjusted.

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The National Parents Organization of Pennsylvania on April 4 announced it is organizing a rally on April 25 at the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg.

The event is set to happen at a time when Pennsylvania legislators are considering two bills—House Bill 443 and House Bill 1349—aimed at supporting shared parenting after separation or divorce and combatting parental alienation.

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The National Parents Organization, which advocates for shared parenting, has been a proponent of such legislation around the country, citing studies that show maximizing time with both parents is beneficial to children. Research has established that shared parenting helps children do better in school and on standardized tests and reduces the risks of emotional disorders, substance abuse and depression, said Ned Holstein, founder of the nonprofit group.

“Overwhelming evidence now shows that kids do better with lots of residential time with both parents. It’s very common for parents to get shared legal custody, but that doesn’t help kids do better in all the ways I’ve mentioned. Shared legal custody is basically the right to have a say, but the heart of parenting isn’t just the right to participate in the big decisions, it’s being involved in the multitude of little decisions,” Holstein said.

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Should House Bill 4113 pass, Illinois will join several states, including Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, South Dakota and Utah, that the National Parents Organization lists as having laws most supportive of shared parenting, while Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts and Missouri are considering similar legislation.

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Virginia is among the growing list of states considering legislation to enact shared parenting - a flexible arrangement that gives children approximately 35-50 percent of time with each parent – after divorce. The bill is set to hit the Senate floor any day now, and Christian Paasch, founder of the Virginia Chapter of the National Parents Organization, discussed what this could mean for local families.

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Ned Holstein, founder and board chair of the National Parents Organization, joins the show to discuss how many of those who commit murder in mass shootings come from fatherless homes.

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