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Despite welcome changes in SB 125, National Parents Organization opposes passage of the bill in its present form. This is because NPO’s primary focus is on the promotion of true shared parenting, where both parents are fully engaged in the day-to-day, hands-on work of raising the children. More than 30 years of scientific research has shown, as conclusively as these things can be shown, that this is the best arrangement for children, even when the parents don’t initially agree to it. It should be the default outcome when parents separate. And SB 125 does not encourage this sort of equal co-parenting; instead, it creates contrary incentives and treats parents who are sharing in the raising of their children unfairly. And, not surprisingly, it is the children who are the innocent victims of this unfairness.

Why? Well, start with an uncontroversial assumption: child support is for the children. That seems incontestable. But, if child support is for the children, then when the children have two homes, the child support funds should be divided between the two homes in proportion to the expected expenses on the children in each home. If child support is for the children, then child support should follow the children.

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The Ohio Senate is considering a bill that would create significant changes to Ohio’s child-support laws, and they are certainly in need of revisions.

Senate Bill 125 would ensure that low-income child support obligors are not driven into abject poverty by the child-support obligations imposed on them — a result that winds up hurting those that the laws are supposed to benefit.

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Proposed legislation encouraging shared parenting time in cases of divorce was the topic of discussion at a “Townhall Hearing” in Howell.

The informational meeting was held by the National Parents Organization Thursday at the Howell Opera House. Approximately 70 people attended to learn more and offer input on House Bill 4691, which is sponsored by White Lake Republican State Representative Jim Runestad. The bill would require judges to award joint legal custody of children to divorcing parents, with exceptions such as a parent’s history of domestic violence. It would also prohibit a parent from moving more than 80 miles away from the other parent and gives substantial weight to a child’s custody preference if they’re 16 or older. 

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Don Hubin, the chairman of the Ohio Executive Committee of the National Parents Organization, says the bill has some good merits but it is also fundamentally flawed.

“What Senate Bill 125 does right is to finally provide an appropriate self-support reserve,” said Hubin.

But he says how it changes some of the calculations will do more harm than good.

“When parents are living separately we want the norm to be both parents have a home for the children; the children don’t have one home where they live and another where they visit; they have two homes where they live,” said Hubin. “Ohio law is very far behind the curve on encouraging this and this child support bill doesn’t help.”

The National Parents Organization wants to see less of a cliff when determining payments based on the number of days children spend with each parent.

“Deciding whether the children move from one house to the other one hour earlier on Friday can make thousands of dollars of difference; that’s just a recipe for needless litigation,” said Hubin.

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Children in shared custody arrangements “do considerably better on every measure, from school success, to fewer teen pregnancies and drug use, to having optimism for the future,” said Dr. Ned Holstein, a public health practitioner and founder of the National Parents Organization (natioalparentsorganization.org), which aims to reform family court practices.

Holstein noted that in the past year, Missouri and Kentucky have passed “excellent shared parenting legislation,” following states including Utah, Arizona and Alaska.

“If you want to hasten the process of healing, or at least tolerance, the worst thing you can do is declare one person a winner and one person a loser,” he said.

“You’re both winners. You’re both going to be parents. That will actually diminish conflict.”

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Don Hubin of the Ohio chapter of the National Parents Organization, which advocates for shared parenting, said the bill gets some things right and some things wrong.

Hubin praised the bill for changing how child support is calculated. "When you institute an impossible order, you encourage non-compliance and . and the child ends up getting nothing," he said.

But Hubin said Ohio and SB125 fail to treat both parents equally and give a proper accounting for duplicated expenses incurred by both, such as having beds in two households for when kids spend time with each parent. The bill doesn't give the non-primary custody parent a break for shared parenting until a child spends 90 or more nights in that parent's household, he said. These elements make it more difficult for separated or divorced couples to do shared parenting, Hubin said.

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Don Hubin of the Ohio chapter of the National Parents Organization, which advocates for shared parenting, said the bill gets some things right and some things wrong.

Hubin praised the bill for changing how child support is calculated. "When you institute an impossible order, you encourage non-compliance and . and the child ends up getting nothing," he said.

But Hubin said Ohio and SB125 fail to treat both parents equally and give a proper accounting for duplicated expenses incurred by both, such as having beds in two households for when kids spend time with each parent. The bill doesn't give the non-primary custody parent a break for shared parenting until a child spends 90 or more nights in that parent's household, he said. These elements make it more difficult for separated or divorced couples to do shared parenting, Hubin said.

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A “Townhall Hearing” next month in Howell will seek public input for proposed legislation in which Michigan parents could see more joint custody and substantially equal parenting time. 

The event will be held Thursday, November 2nd from 6-8pm at the Howell Opera House. It’s being sponsored by the National Parents Organization which supports legislation by White Lake Republican State Representative Jim Runestad, who will be the guest speaker at the gathering. He says that with some exceptions, such as a history of domestic violence, the bill would require the court to begin with the presumption that shared parenting is in the best interest of the child. His bill would also prohibit a parent from moving more than 80 miles away from the other parent and giving substantial weight to the child’s custody preference if they’re 16 or older. 

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National Parents Organization of Missouri's Linda Reutzel speaks on shared parenting.

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"We have a real problem and you know it or you wouldn't be here," state Sen. Wayne Wallingford told the crowd of about 30. "The ones that really get hurt are the children. ... When you go from being a parent to a visitor, something's wrong."

The meeting was hosted by Americans For Equal Shared Parenting, a group committed to reforming the way judges award child custody after parents divorce.

State Reps. Kathy Swan of Cape Girardeau and Rick Francis of Perryville also attended the meeting. The legislators said there are plans to prefile at least one bill in December designed to put mothers and fathers on equal footing instead of granting mothers a prefunctory advantage. The bill -- which will be a revised version of one previously submitted -- would seek to impose "rebuttable presumption of equally shared parenting," requiring judges to begin with the presumption both parents are "fit and willing," explained Linda Reutzel, the state chairwoman for the National Parents Organization.

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A new bill in Lansing could help give parents the chance to share custody of their children if they have been determined to be fit parents.

It is especially geared to help children get through a process that can be an emotional roller coaster.

"I wouldn't wish that on my own worst enemy. It's the hardest thing in the world to wake up everyday without your kids," said Derek Jaeger, with the National Parents Organization.

He supports the newly proposed bill that would give parents in custody cases equal time with their children. It's called the Michigan Shared Custody Act.

"It calls for a presumption of equal shared parenting be the starting point," said Linda Wright, with National Parents Organization.

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Forty-three states received a “C” or below rating from the National Parents Organization's Shared Parenting Report Card for legal parental equity. In state after state, there are tens of thousands of fathers who are marginalized or completely eliminated from their children’s lives under hostile legal codes and crushing financial burdens. 

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Don Hubin of the Ohio chapter of the National Parents Organization, which advocates for shared parenting, said the bill gets some things right and some things wrong.

Hubin praised the bill for changing how child support is calculated. ” When you institute an impossible order, you encourage non- compliance and the child ends up getting nothing,” he said.


But Hubin said Ohio and SB125 fail to treat both parents equally and give a proper accounting for duplicated expenses incurred by both, such as having beds in two households for when kids spend time with each parent. The bill doesn’t give the nonprimary custody parent a break for shared parenting until a child spends 90 or more nights in that parent’s household, he said. These elements make it more difficult for separated or divorced couples to do shared parenting, Hubin said.

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About 20 Michiganders who believe that shared parenting should be the starting point in divorce cases with children lobbied lawmakers today with new polling data. 

Based on what they got back from the Marketing Resource Group, 84 percent of Michigan voters support children receiving equal time with both parents after a divorce.

Advocates made about 25 stops to member offices today as the House considers legislation that would require a child's time be split equally. 

"They have heard from the judges. They've heard from family law attorneys. Now they are hearing from the citizens of Michigan," said Keith LEDBETTER, the spokesperson for the National Parents Organization of Michigan. 

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WILX/NBC-TV interviews Linda Wright of National Parents Organization of Michigan on women's legislative shared parenting day.

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In light of the state's shared parenting bill, National Parents Organization of Michigan Chair Linda Wright discusses new poll results showing Michigan voters overwhelmingly support shared parenting.

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Parents have a much more favorable take on shared parenting than do judges. As of 2017, over 44% of child custody cases agreed to by the parents are for joint custody. By contrast, only 10.5% of cases decided by a judge order joint custody.

Stranger still, the trends are in opposite directions. In 2015, over 16% of court-ordered cases were for joint custody and about 34% of parents agreed to joint custody. That divergence began shortly after Measure 6, the 2014 ballot initiative that sought a presumption of shared parenting for the children of divorce.

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In North Dakota, a child’s chances of spending meaningful time with each parent following divorce have less to do with his parents than what county they divorce in. For example, there’s a whopping 100% difference in joint custody between Grand Forks and Morton counties. Worse, courts are less than one-fourth as likely to order shared parenting as parents are to agree to it. Those and other worrying facts have come to light in a study of court orders in child custody cases conducted by the organization Leading Women for Shared Parenting.

LW4SP asked the Administrative Office of the Court to provide raw data on child custody orders in North Dakota’s eight largest counties from 2011 to the present. That data paints a disturbing portrait of judges’ orders in child custody arrangements that generally fail the all-important test of promoting children’s interests.

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As our children head back to school again, it is useful to ask why so many are doing so poorly. It seems we've tried everything to improve standardized test scores among disadvantaged students, with little success.

But perhaps the answer partially lies in the home, not in the school. It turns out that children raised by single parents account for 71 percent of high school dropouts, according to federal statistics, and that children who have shared parenting after their parents separate due to divorce do considerably better.

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With the important exception of children who need protection from an abusive or negligent parent, "shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children," said Linda Nielsen, a professor of adolescent and educational psychology at Wake Forest University.

It's difficult to believe that, in 2017, this even is a question. But statistics show that mothers still are awarded full physical custody of children in more than 80 percent of court-ordered child custody cases.

One big reason for the inequity is a decadeslong belief by judges and others that conflict between divorcing parents (which is to be expected at this difficult passage) will cause too much stress for children. Those wary of establishing shared parenting argue that it places children in the middle of disagreements, pressures them into loyalty conflicts or forces them to side with one parent against the other.

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Children in shared custody arrangements "do considerably better on every measure, from school success, to fewer teen pregnancies and drug use, to having optimism for the future," said Dr. Ned Holstein, a public health practitioner and founder of the National Parents Organization (natioalparentsorganization.org), which aims to reform family court practices.

Holstein noted that in the past year, Missouri and Kentucky have passed "excellent shared parenting legislation," following states including Utah, Arizona and Alaska.

"If you want to hasten the process of healing, or at least tolerance, the worst thing you can do is declare one person a winner and one person a loser," he said.

"You're both winners. You're both going to be parents. That will actually diminish conflict."

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It’s difficult to believe that, in 2017, this even is a question. But statistics show that mothers still are awarded full physical custody of children in more than 80 percent of court-ordered child custody cases.

One big reason for the inequity is a decadeslong belief by judges and others that conflict between divorcing parents (which is to be expected at this difficult passage) will cause too much stress for children. Those wary of establishing shared parenting argue that it places­ children in the middle of disagreements, pressures them into loyalty conflicts or forces them to side with one parent against the other.

Their thinking is that it’s better to formally place the children in Mom’s household for stability and let Dad parent one night a week and every other weekend.

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What two factors vastly increase the likelihood of a healthy and happy future for kids after divorce?

Mom – and Dad.

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Children in shared custody arrangements "do considerably better on every measure, from school success, to fewer teen pregnancies and drug use, to having optimism for the future," said Dr. Ned Holstein, a public health practitioner and founder of the National Parents Organization (natioalparentsorganization.org), which aims to reform family court practices.

Holstein noted that in the past year, Missouri and Kentucky have passed "excellent shared parenting legislation," following states including Utah, Arizona and Alaska.

"If you want to hasten the process of healing, or at least tolerance, the worst thing you can do is declare one person a winner and one person a loser," he said.

"You're both winners. You're both going to be parents. That will actually diminish conflict."

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