Kentucky: The First Domino

May 23, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

It’s the domino effect all over again. No, I’m not talking about the Cold War theory that, if one country became communist, then others around it inevitably would follow. I’m talking about the effect one shared parenting law in Kentucky seems to be having on the states around it.

As readers of this blog know, thanks to the National Parents Organization and the redoubtable Matt Hale, Kentucky became the first jurisdiction in the English-speaking world to enact a presumption of equal parenting into law. The new statute becomes effective on July 1. As if that weren’t enough of a landmark, it’s beginning to look like the states around Kentucky may be influenced by its success.

Certainly the news media in those states have taken note. In Ohio, Missouri, West Virginia, New York, Indiana and Minnesota at least, print and broadcast media have picked up on the Kentucky story. By now, the people of those states and their elected representatives know that another state has taken the plunge and decided to actually do what’s best for kids. Kentucky now walks the walk instead of just talking the talk.

So, shortly after Governor Matt Bevin signed our shared parenting bill into law, the ABC affiliate in Cincinnati picked up on the news. So did print media in West Virginia, Indiana and New York.

And all that press exposure has shown concrete results. Our point person in Missouri, Linda Reutzel informs us that legislators have been positively influenced by the passage of shared parenting in Kentucky. Indeed, NPO’s shared parenting bill passed the Missouri House and apparently would have passed the Senate but for a single senator’s threat of a filibuster.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, veteran shared parenting advocate Molly Olson reports that legislators there have taken note of the new Kentucky law. In Indiana, our Kentucky success has spurred activists to begin work on a new NPO affiliate there.

What all this means of course is that, in the future, our lobbyists will have yet another weapon with which to slay the beast that opposes shared parenting. In the past, opponents have routinely used scare tactics to try to convince legislators that a vote for shared parenting is a vote for chaos in family courts, children subjected to emotionally draining trips between homes, increased conflict between parents, children beaten by their fathers, etc.

So far, we’ve been able to point out that existing science demonstrates all those arguments to be meritless. But now we’ll be able to point to Kentucky and note that none of those nightmare scenarios has occurred. The earth hasn’t opened and swallowed the state or even a little part of it. Cautious legislators will be able to see for themselves not only that shared parenting is good for kids, but that it works in practice. That’s of incalculable value for the fights to come.

For now though, Kentucky’s new law is making headlines across several states. Now they know that a presumption of equal parenting can become reality, that legislators can vote in favor and not lose their jobs, that children can maintain healthy relationships with both parents, that no fit parent need lose contact with his/her child and that all those arguments against shared parenting were just that – arguments.

The truth is that shared parenting is a win/win/win/win/win arrangement. It’s good for kids, mothers, fathers, society generally and state and federal treasuries. At last we have an example to point to.

Kentucky’s the first domino to fall, but far from the last.

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