Hundreds of supporters of family court reform packed the Joint Committee on the Judiciary hearings last Wednesday. Numerous determined supporters of Fathers and Families’ Shared Parenting bill (H02684) testified–some waiting all day up to 10 PM at night to do so–and their words were powerful and engendered much agreement and sympathy.
Now we need you to:
1) Call your state representative and ask him or her to call House Chair Eugene L. O’Flaherty and Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo and ask them to pass the bill. The phone numbers and email addresses of all House members can be found here.
2) Call your state senator and ask him or her to call Senate Chair Cynthia Stone Creem and Senate President Therese Murray and ask them to pass the bill. The phone numbers and email addresses of all Senators can be found here.
3) Tell us what your representative or senator said by emailing us.
Activism is not a spectator sport–we need your calls to help overcome the special interests that are arrayed against us. Women, grandparents and children of divorce are especially needed–we urge you to ask your spouses, parents, siblings and friends to call, too.
We’ve built widespread support for shared parenting among legislators–30% of whom signed on as cosponsors of shared parenting legislation–and with the Governor. But shared parenting is being bottled up in committee by a handful of ideologues–we need your help to get it out.
To read the testimonies of Dr. Holstein and Fathers and Families’ members Deanna Marchand, Jules Remenar, Michael Burgraff, Howie Simon, and others, click here. We also thank F & F member Richard Fucillo for his skilled legislative work in support of the bill, as well as the many others who attended and in some cases testified, including Roy Corbeil (a grandparent), Terry Brennan, Harris Allen, Tom Hanks, David Harbison, Robert Gada (with his baby), John Peterson, Kevin McCarthy (with his 4 year old boy), and others.
We know of only two people who testified against shared parenting, one of whom represented the Family Law Task Force.
A Repudiation of the Massachusetts Family Court System
Another positive that came out of Wednesday’s hearing was progress on S00665, an alimony reform bill. In Massachusetts, divorced fathers are often saddled with lifetime alimony, as judges are forced to either order alimony without an end or no alimony at all.
Fathers and Families has worked legislatively and in the PR area for a decade on this issue, and in recent years the group Massachusetts Alimony Reform has done excellent work to resolve this problem. There appears to be a consensus in the Judiciary Committee that Massachusetts Alimony Reform’s S00665 will pass.
This is a very positive development in itself, but there’s more. Paula Carey, the Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court, has long publicly held that the legislature need not meddle into family law, as the family court system can and does correct itself. Yet the alimony situation has been a long-running train-wreck which Carey, the family court system, and the higher courts couldn’t or wouldn’t fix. The fact that the legislature has had to intervene directly to fix this problem serves as a repudiation of the Massachusetts family court system and the higher courts, and could open the door to more reforms.
As Dr. Holstein noted during his testimony, “Shared parenting is overdue. We seem to be about to take care of the money [via the alimony bill]; now let”s take care of the kids.”
Background on H02684
Fathers and Families members’ Citizen Lobbyist efforts of the past several months have paid off, as nearly 30% of all Massachusetts legislators signed on as co-sponsors of Shared Parenting legislation. For a complete list of these legislators, click here or see the bottom of this page.
F & F’s History of Organizing Popular Support for Shared Parenting in Massachusetts
While we have been stymied to date by a small minority on the Judiciary Committee, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of the population of Massachusetts favors shared parenting, and it’s safe to say that most legislators favor it, too. We say this because:
- An F & F Massachusetts shared parenting ballot initiative in 2004 won by a huge margin (86%-14%).
- Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick told the Massachusetts legislature that if they pass our shared parenting bill, he will sign it, and F & F has met with Patrick.
- F & F has consistently been able to gather large numbers of legislative co-sponsors for shared parenting, including future U.S. Senator Scott Brown and many others.
- Shared parenting was the most-requested plank in the Platform of the Massachusetts Democratic Party in 2009.
- Shared parenting was endorsed in principle by the editorial board of the Boston Globe in 2008.
Together with you in the love of our children,
Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.
Founder, Chairman of the Board
Glenn Sacks, MA