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Election Day Presents Opportunity to Support Shared Parenting

October 29, 2014
By Rita Fuerst Adams, National Executive Director, National Parents Organization

National Parents Organization urges its members to vote in support of candidates who advocate for shared parenting on Election Day. While we continue national efforts to reform obsolete child custody laws, one of the greatest ways each of our individual members can have an impact is at the polls. Thirty-six states are holding gubernatorial elections. It is a pivotal year for many of you to get out and vote.

Prior to casting your ballot on Election Day, Tuesday November 4, we encourage you to research your local candidates to determine where they stand on shared parenting in instances of divorce or separation. Also consider the incumbents’ voting record, specifically on issues related to child custody. In addition, voters should scrutinize all ballot questions and evaluate how they may impact our modern families.

We hope this pre-election scrutiny translates into informed voter decisions that bring good news for shared parenting, parental equality, and, ultimately, all children throughout the nation who desperately need the love and care of both parents following divorce or separation.

Elected officials, including representatives and judges at many levels, play a critical role in shaping our laws as well as court practices that will heavily influence future child custody results. Now more than ever, it is clear that shared parenting is in the best interest of children’s health and well-being, and as a result, it is imperative that we elect representatives and back ballot initiatives that work toward ensuring more children, especially those whose parents are not together, experience a childhood where both parents are fully engaged in their lives.

It’s important to consider that in the months prior to this election, three different groups of child development researchers and practitioners endorsed shared parenting in most circumstances. Among them is the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, which published the recommendations of 32 family law experts, concluding that “children’s best interests are furthered by parenting plans that provide for continuing and shared parenting relationships.” It is our responsibility to make certain our elected officials hear this news and the greatest way to send the message is through an election.

It is critical that our elected officials no longer overlook the problems caused by our family courts. Despite the recent research showing the many benefits of shared parenting, for instance, our family courts continue with a precedent that results largely in single parenting arrangements, and in turn, our children are suffering. Consider that the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Justice, and the Census Bureau report that 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.

Sadly, despite the research supporting shared parenting and the startling impacts of single parenting, only 17 percent of children of separated or divorced parents have shared parenting. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 35 percent of children in our nation today are raised in households where the mother and father no longer live together and these children deserve better.

On Election Day, we have the opportunity to make changes that could help turn around this family crisis. Please take the time to research the candidates and issues, and then I invite you to join me in voting for shared parenting.

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