April 29, 2015
By Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
BOSTON — As Parental Alienation Awareness Day nears – Saturday, April 25, 2015 – National Parents Organization emphasizes that while our nation’s family courts continue to marginalize one of the parents following divorce or separation, the organization is encouraged by the fact that lawmakers in about 20 states are working to support shared parenting and parental equality in child custody cases.
“Winner-take-all custody battles are unnecessary, since shared parenting works best for children in most cases. Worse, custody battles often create permanent hostility between parents that can then turn into ‘parental alienation,’ a common situation in which one parent alienates the child from the other parent,” said Robert Franklin, Esq., who serves on National Parents Organization’s Board of Directors. “The most powerful way to prevent parental alienation is to have shared parenting from the first day parents separate. It’s very hard to alienate a child from a parent whose loving care the child experiences frequently. Unfortunately, it’s not hard to alienate a young child from a parent they rarely get to see. I’m encouraged by the current, nationwide family court reform effort to move away from parental alienation and towards parental equality.”
As The Wall Street Journal reported April 16 in the article, “Big Shift Pushed in Custody Disputes,” about 20 states are considering shared parenting legislation. The bills are similar in that they encourage family courts to more equally award child custody in instances of divorce and separation. Now, sole custody, usually awarded to the mother, is ordered more than 80 percent of the time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The proposals seek to put parents on equal footing from the start, reducing conflict, parental alienation and legal costs.
This movement falls in line with recent research showing children thrive with significant time with both parents.
“There have been a lot of studies in recent years that show that when you share parenting duty – when both the mother and the father share at least 35 percent of the actual parenting responsibilities – the outcomes are very good for children,” The Wall Street Journal’s Ashby Jones stated in the Journal’s video on the issue.
In the past year alone, three groups of child development researchers and practitioners endorsed shared parenting in most circumstances. Among the endorsements is a report published by the American Psychological Association from prominent psychologist Dr. Richard Warshak, titled “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report.” The paper 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.” In addition, federal statistics show the devastating impact single parenting has on children. (See “Single Parenting Versus Shared Parenting” below.)
“Luckily, this crisis has a solution in shared parenting. I hope we soon see the day where parents are often considered as equal in divorce as they are in marriage – after all, it’s in the best interest of kids,” Franklin said.