NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
BOSTON — National Parents Organization applauds the Boston Globe for supporting Massachusetts’ Child-Centered Family Law bill and urges legislators to support the best interests of children by following the Globe’s advice and passing H4107, that was previously known as both S834 and H1207.
In the June 20 Globe editorial “Repeat After Us: Pass these Worthy Bills,” the editorial board wrote, “Massachusetts’ child custody laws are outdated. The Child-Centered Family Law billacknowledges a widely held belief that isn’t always reflected in court orders: Children benefit from spending significant time with both parents. The legislation would encourage family-court judges to grant parents shared custody, with a child spending at least one-third of the time with each parent.”
Dr. Ned Holstein, M.D., Founder and Board Chair of Boston-based National Parents Organization, said, “As the clock ticks on this legislative session, the most pressing need for the children of Massachusetts is passage of the Child-Centered Family Law. Thank you, Boston Globe editorial board, for rightly urging legislators to make the best interests of children a top priority. We’ve long known that children desperately want and need shared parenting after divorce, and Massachusetts is long overdue for aligning our family courts with the overwhelming amount of research in favor of shared parenting.”
Almost 50 bipartisan Massachusetts legislators serve as sponsors and co-sponsors of the proposal. The proposal was born out of recommendations from the 18 distinguished stakeholders former Gov. Patrick appointed to the Massachusetts Working Group on Child-Centered Family Law, including NPO’s Dr. Holstein.
Currently, Massachusetts courts award sole physical custody to one parent, not shared parenting, a great majority of the time after divorce. While shared parenting remains unusual nationwide, it is gaining momentum. For instance, within the past year, at least two states – Utah and Minnesota – joined the list of states with laws supportive of shared parenting. Plus, another nearly 20 states have considered similar laws, and shared parenting bills have passed the state legislature and traveled to the Governor’s desk in two states in recent months – a Florida proposal was vetoed by Governor Rick Scott, and reform in Missouri is awaiting the signature of Governor Jay Nixon.
“I can’t think of a more historic close to the end of the 2016 Massachusetts legislative session than for our state to enact the Child-Centered Family Law,” Dr. Holstein said. “It will vastly improve the lives of the smaller number of children whose parents insist on a custody battle, as well as the large number of children whose parents agree to negotiate, and who will be likely to agree on shared parenting knowing that this would be the likely outcome if they litigated instead.”
RECENT RESEARCH: SHARED PARENTING VERSUS SINGLE PARENTING
Shared Parenting Data
- The Journal of the American Psychological Association published a paper titled “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report” in 2014, and the conclusions were endorsed by 110 eminent authorities around the world. Authored by Dr. Richard Warshak at the University of Texas, the paper concluded, “… shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.”
- In 2016, Dr. Warshak wrote, “Two years after its publication, the conclusions and recommendations of the Warshak consensus report remain supported by science.” He also wrote, “The paper has been translated into at least eighteen languages and has informed legislative deliberations throughout the U.S. and parliamentary deliberations in several countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, Finland, Romania, Croatia, and Sweden. Two years after its publication, the consensus report continues to be one of the most downloaded papers from the journal’s website.” He added, “The list of endorsers and their stature and accomplishments reflect the field’s general acceptance of the consensus report’s findings as rooted in settled science from more than four decades of research directly relevant to this topic, including seminal studies by many of the endorsers.”
- The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health published a 150,000-person study titled “Fifty moves a year: Is there an association between joint physical custody and psychosomatic problems in children?” in May 2015 that concluded shared parenting after divorce or separation is in the best interest of children’s health because the arrangement lowers their stress levels.
- The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) published the recommendations of 32 family law experts in 2014, and the group concluded, “Children’s best interests are furthered by parenting plans that provide for continuing and shared parenting relationships that are safe, secure, and developmentally responsive and that also avoid a template calling for a specific division of time imposed on all families.”
Single Parenting Data
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% of teen suicides;
• 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions;
• 71% of high school drop-outs;
• 75% of children in chemical abuse centers;
• 85% of those in prison;
• 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders; and
• 90% of homeless and runaway children.
Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S., Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization
A regular contributor to local and national media, Dr. Holstein is Founder and Chair of the Board of National Parents Organization. Dr. Holstein was appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts to the Massachusetts Working Group on Child Centered Family Law, and he was previously appointed by a Massachusetts Chief Justice to a task force charged with reviewing and revising the state’s child support guidelines.
A graduate of Harvard College, Dr. Holstein also earned a Master’s degree in psychology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His medical degree is from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he serves on the faculty.
ABOUT NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
National Parents Organization, a charitable and educational 501 (c)(3) organization, seeks better lives for children through family law reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers after divorce or separation. The organization is focused on promoting shared parenting and preserving a child’s strong bond with both parents, which is critically important to their emotional, mental, and physical health. In 2014, National Parents Organization released the Shared Parenting Report Card, the first study to rank the states on child custody laws. Visit the National Parents Organization website at www.nationalparentsorganization.org