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March 16, 2020 – Without joint custody, children are the biggest losers

Introduction: The New York State chair of the National Parents Organization wrote a persuasive piece to support a bill that was recently introduced into the New York State Legislature that would mandate a rebuttable presumption of Equal Shared Parenting for interim orders.

Without joint custody, children are the biggest losers

Friday, February 28, 2020 – 11:23

Why must kids miss out on certain family relationships when parents separate? It’s cruel for children, who love both parents, to suddenly lose access to everything they once knew when their parents no longer want to live together. Does a child’s love and need for both parents suddenly end when parents decide to separate?

When parents separate, even if it’s amicable, it’s a traumatic event. It’s hard for the parents, relatives, friends, and especially children. Barring exceptional circumstances, a child’s right to both loving, fit parents should not be allowed to be used as leverage against the other while personal differences are ironed out in a settlement or in family court.

Our culture is due for a drastic paradigm shift. It’s time to stop seeing one parent as the default and the other as just a visitor. These assumptions are often sexist and outdated. If the parents can no longer live together, the next best thing is for the child to have equal time with each parent.

Our current domestic relations law here in New York State makes no effort to require, or even encourage, that healthy, fit, loving parents spend equal time with their child after a separation. Family courts usually pick one parent to “win custody.”

However, in the long run, the children are the biggest losers. When one side of their family suddenly is cut off, children have a strained relationship with not only the non-custodial parent, but the extended family as well. For example, they may rarely see their aunts, uncles, cousins, or grandparents whom they used to see frequently. Extended family relationships are often a vital support system.

Setting a rebuttable presumption of shared parenting for temporary orders, with room for exceptions if one parent is demonstrably unfit, will shift the starting point to what’s best for children. …

The new bill in the New York State Legislature, sponsored by Assemblyman Chris Tague sets a standard of equal time with each parent during this crucial moment – a time when a child needs all the support, reassurance and stability as possible.

Bill A09819 will add a rebuttable presumption in temporary child-custody proceedings. This legislation specifically takes into account the children’s best interest, and encourages outcomes of shared parental responsibility when possible while completely preserving judicial discretion.

More than 20 states have recently considered shared custody, and an increasing number have adopted statutes in favor of some form of shared parenting. The concept of shared parenting has been validated by social science as well, with about 50 studies endorsing equal custody as best for children in most circumstances.

In 2017, Kentucky passed the nation’s first true shared-parenting law. It was the state’s most popular law of the year. In addition to its popularity, since the law went into effect, it has helped decrease conflict in family court. The law is effective and extremely successful. Family court filings are down 11 percent, and domestic violence claims are down 445 cases.

It’s time for the New York State Legislature to look past the special interests that benefit from our broken family court system. We should be focusing our attention on what children want and need – as much time as possible with both loving, fit, and caring parents.

If we don’t push for what’s best for our children, we are giving into the desires of special-interest groups who are fighting to protect the outdated system we all know hasn’t worked. If we don’t change our law and customs and do what’s right for our children, we are essentially rallying against our children and propping up a system that works only for those who benefit from continuous conflict.

Let’s do what’s right for our children and update the law so children won’t lose significant contact with loving parents. When parents separate, the family doesn’t end; it just gets rearranged.

Clayton Craddock

The entire article is found here:

Link to Gene C. Colman’s Equal Shared Parenting Web Page

Link to past issues of the ESP Thought of the Day publication

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