Kansas Shared Parenting Bill Clears Hurdle

March 31, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The Kansas Senate’s Judiciary Committee has passed NPO’s shared parenting bill.  NPO’s Will Mitchell’s article is here (Kansas City Star, 3/28/19).  From here, the bill’s prospects look good.

That’s because SB 157 has a whopping 17 co-sponsors out of a total of 40 senators.  Plus, the lead sponsor is the President of the Senate, Susan Wagle.  Her comments on the bill were predictably on point.

“Children deserve consistent love and care from both parents, but all too often our judicial system does not treat fathers fairly in custody decisions. Senate Bill 157 encourages a much-needed shared parenting arrangement, allowing children to benefit fully from having an involved mother and father in their life.”

Indeed.  As Mitchell points out, the bill is squarely in line with Kansans’ attitudes about parenting arrangements following divorce.

A recent Kansas statewide survey on shared parenting shows 80 percent support the new law while 2 percent oppose. It is nearly unprecedented to see these kind of numbers in lawmaking.

Eighty-seven percent of Kansans said they believe it is in the best interests of the child to have as much time as possible with both fit parents.

Plus, bi-partisan support in the Senate accurately reflects the bi-partisan nature of shared parenting’s support among the general public.

Shared parenting (equal physical time with two fit parents after divorce/separation) has widespread support among men and women, Republicans and Democrats and across every age and racial group. 

In other polls in other states, the same has held true.  Old and young, Republicans and Democrats, blacks and whites, men and women all overwhelmingly support shared parenting and the reform of laws to encourage it.

And what happened in Kansas is mirrored in other states.

Over the last month, Missouri, Oklahoma, Iowa and Minnesota committees have all advanced shared parenting laws.  

The urgent need for shared parenting to be the default position in the law when people divorce is overwhelmingly reflected in the data on children’s welfare.

Children raised by just one parent account for 65 percent of teen suicides; 71 percent of high school drop-outs; 75 percent in chemical abuse centers; and 90 percent of homeless and runaway children.

And those figures are just a small fraction of the information we have demonstrating that shared parenting is the best arrangement for kids.  Children do better with shared parenting than they do in any other arrangement save an intact biological family, something that, of course, divorce makes impossible.

Good for Kansas, good for Will Mitchell and NPO’s vital affiliate there.

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