November 5, 2014
By Rita Fuerst Adams, National Executive Director, National Parents Organization
As National Parents Organization celebrates news this week that actor Jason Patric has won the right to fight for custody of his son, we are also reminded of an unfortunate reality: This high profile case is one of millions of instances where children are born into child custody battles and often lose out on the many benefits that result from the loving care of both their parents.
As an advocacy organization for shared parenting and parental equality, we believe it is important to look at the bigger picture and emphasize that Jason’s son Gus is among 40.7 percent of children born today to unmarried parents, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Unfortunately, the impact of this statistic is compounded by the fact that judges rarely award shared parenting in instances of divorce or separation, let alone to never married parents. U.S. Census Bureau data shows that shared parenting is in place just 17 percent of the time when parents are separated or divorced. Joint custody, typically awarded to the mother, continues as the status quo, which is largely out of touch with our modern families as well as a wealth of data and research showing that children desperately need both parents in their lives.
In 2014 alone, three different leading groups of child development researchers and practitioners endorsed shared parenting in most circumstances. Among them is a report by prominent psychologist Dr. Richard Warshak, titled “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report,” which was endorsed 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.”
Other recent support for shared parenting includes a recommendation from 32 family law experts that was published by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and a consensus statement from researchers representing 20 countries at the First International Conference on Shared Parenting.
The momentous research favoring shared parenting coincides with statistics that demonstrate the negative impacts our broken system has on our children. An overwhelming amount of federal data demonstrates this fact by showing 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
- 90% of homeless and runaway children
Our children should not be born into child custody disputes but into a childhood that guarantees them the opportunity to benefit equally from both their parents throughout their upbringing and regardless of their parents’ marital status. With more children born out of wedlock now than ever, it’s crucial that our lawmakers act to reform child custody laws throughout the nation so that we can reverse the negative impact our broken family courts are having on our youth. Our family courts have a responsibility for making certain that our children are not deprived from the many benefits they stand to gain from both their parents.
To learn more about shared parenting and to find information that may be helpful for your case and your children, visit our website. (set these up as links)
Finally, if you are joining Founder and Chair Ned Holstein in a rare opportunity for personal growth and social reform: the Family Law Reform Conference hosted by Divorce Corp, November 15-16, 2014 in Alexandria, Virginia, please let us know.
This will be an unprecedented opportunity for you to learn about family court trends, meet leaders in the reform movement, learn the latest research on shared parenting and other subjects that can help you, learn how to keep court costs down, and debate the best strategies for reforming the courts, child support agencies, and child protective services. Join us there!