NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
September 9, 2015
BOSTON – While Grandparents Day, Sunday, Sept. 13, stands on the calendar as a day to celebrate grandparents, National Parents Organization emphasizes that the day unfortunately also serves as a reminder that many grandparents aren’t allowed to spend a significant amount of meaningful time with their grandchildren after a family experiences divorce or separation. Fortunately, a solution to the problem exists in shared parenting, and National Parents Organization urges the nearly 20 states that have considered shared parenting legislation within the past year to strengthen efforts to move the reform forward.
Currently, the divorce court status quo of awarding one parent sole custody and categorizing the other parent as a visitor in instances of divorce or separation has a tremendous impact on extended family members. Grandmothers and grandfathers, as well as aunts, uncles and cousins, often lose out on time with the children they love simply because they fall on the “visitor” side of the family. In fact, shared parenting is only in place about 20 percent of the time following divorce or separation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The national trend of states enacting and considering shared parenting bills is in line with an increasing amount of research showing the two-parent solution supports the best interest of children. As just one recent example, the American Psychological Association published a report within the past year by prominent University of Texas psychologist Richard Warshak titled “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report.” The report was signed by 110 child development experts and concludes: “Shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.” In addition, federal statistics show the alarming impact that single parenting has on children (see “Single Parenting Versus Shared Parenting” below).
From National Parents Organization’s perspective, one of the greatest negative impacts the family courts currently have on children is the unfortunate and unnecessary limitations they place on children’s access to extended family and the critical, loving roles that grandparents play in children’s lives. This Grandparents Day, National Parents Organization encourages all states to join the push for shared parenting and parental equality after divorce so that all grandchildren can receive the constant love and support of all grandparents.
STATES SUPPORTING SHARED PARENTING
Within the past year, states including Utah and South Dakota have passed and implemented legislation supportive of shared parenting after divorce or separation, and the states that have considered similar proposals within the past year include:
- New York
- South Carolina
Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.
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, 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 later served on the faculty as a teacher and researcher.
SINGLE PARENTING VERSUS SHARED PARENTING
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Census Bureau and numerous researchers have reported alarming outcomes for the 35% of children who are raised by single parents. Yet, until now, this factor has been largely ignored in the conversation about child wellbeing.
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.
Whether the problem is emotional disturbances of children, drug use, alcohol use, teen pregnancy, poor performance in school, trouble with the law or running with gangs, being raised by a single parent is a powerful risk factor. For many of these outcomes, single parenting is a stronger risk factor than race or poverty. Conversely, children on average do much better on all these measures if they have shared parenting. Children ardently desire shared parenting in most cases and are happier with it.
For parents, shared parenting significantly increases child support compliance, diminishes parental conflict and domestic violence and allows both parents to pursue their careers, social lives and other interests without the burden of singlehandedly raising a child.
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