The National Parents Organization has had another success, this time in Massachusetts (Beacon Hill Patch, 7/13/18). NPO helped draft and pass House Bill 3090 that encourages judges to order shared parenting in divorce cases. The Bay State’s House of Representatives passed the bill that has now gone to the Senate Rules Committee for consideration.
If the Rules Committee and the Senate as a whole want to follow their constituents’ wishes, they’ll promptly approve HB 3090. In a non-binding referendum, a whopping 86% of Massachusetts voters said they approved of shared parenting following divorce. As in other states, that support crossed all the usual lines of race, class, sex and party affiliation. As a strictly political matter, it doesn’t get much clearer than that; the voters of Massachusetts want shared parenting. Will their elected officials take heed?
We’ll soon find out. The Senate discontinues its session during the first week of August. That means it’s vital that as many supporters of shared parenting as possible contact their senators and tell them politely to vote for HB 3090. They need to do so early and often until the bill is voted out of committee and passed by the full Senate.
As before, the usual suspects stand in the way of passage. They are Senators Cynthia Creem and Will Brownsberger, both of whom just happen to be divorce lawyers when they’re not attending to their senatorial duties. I’ve written often that the only true opponents of shared parenting left are family lawyers and Creem and Brownsberger are two prime examples. When they oppose shared parenting bills, they’re putting their fees ahead of the well-being of Massachusetts kids and their parents. After all,
The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health published a 150,000-person study that concluded shared parenting after divorce or separation is in the best interest of children's health.
The Journal of the American Psychological Association published a paper endorsed by 110 eminent authorities around the world that concluded, "... shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children."
The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) published the recommendations of 32 family law experts, who concluded that "Children's best interests are furthered by parenting plans that provide for continuing and shared parenting relationships that are safe, secure, and developmentally responsive..."
According to federal statistics from sources including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Census Bureau, children raised by single parents account for:
63 percent of teen suicides
70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions
71 percent of high school drop-outs
75 percent of children in chemical abuse centers
85 percent of those in prison
85 percent of children who exhibit behavioral disorders
90 percent of homeless and runaway children
Plus, as Prof. Linda Nielsen found in her summary of over 60 studies of shared vs. sole parenting,
One of the greatest advantages of joint physical custody are improved family relationships and better physical and mental health. Specifically, Nielsen's research found that children in shared parenting arrangements had closer, communicative relationships with both parents and grandparents As a result, Nielsen continued that "children who have close relationships with their grandparents after their parents separate are better adjusted emotionally and behaviorally than those who do not"
Additionally, a number of the studies found that children with shared parenting arrangements were "physically healthier and had fewer psychosomatic, stress-related problems (insomnia, intestinal problems, headaches, etc.)
In a large number of studies, children with shared parenting also had fewer issues relating to depression, life satisfaction, anxiety and self-esteem
Research also shows that children in shared parenting environments are better adjusted and have fewer behavioral issues dealing with drinking, smoking, using drugs, being aggressive, bullying, committing delinquent acts, etc.
Shared parenting: children need it, voters want it and it confers a wide range of benefits on parents and society generally. What’s not to like?
So get on the phone and call your Massachusetts state senator. Send him/her an email. Visit the capitol and meet your senator in person. Do whatever you can, but make your voice heard. Don’t allow the family lawyers to any longer dictate the relationships kids can have with their parents.