NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
February 8, 2016
National Parents Organization applauds Missouri legislators who are acting on the growing research showing shared parenting is in the best interest of children in most cases when parents divorce or separate.
Missouri legislators joined the national movement to reform the family courts and support shared parenting – a flexible arrangement in which children spend as close to equal time as possible with each parent after separation or divorce – with the filing of identical bills, HB 2055, and SB 964. These two bills are sponsored by Representative Kathryn Swan, R-Cape Girardeau, and Senator Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau, respectively. The Senate bill will be heard at 8:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 9, by the Seniors, Families and Children Committee. Supporters are urged to testify.
The legislation proposes adding language to the state’s child custody law to emphasize that the best interest of the child is equal access to both parents – a change that would encourage judges to pay more attention to research on the best interest of children. The move could be a significant change, considering shared parenting occurs less than 20 percent of the time after separation or divorce, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“Thank you, Missouri lawmakers, for standing up for what children most want and need. I urge all state legislators to waste no time in moving this historic proposal forward,” said Dr. Ned Holstein, MD, Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization. “Millions of American children are suffering from the outmoded practices of the family courts of awarding custody to just one parent, with only a few days per month of parenting time with the other parent. This custody model is not in the best interest of most children. It causes heartache for children, who ardently desire the love and guidance of both parents. And such children do more poorly in school, have higher rates of substance abuse, drop out more frequently, and have higher rates of delinquency, gang activity and trouble with the law. ”
While shared parenting is unusual, efforts to turn it from the exception to the norm within family courts are growing. For instance, The Wall Street Journal recently revealed that nearly 20 states have proposed shared parenting laws, and at least three states have recently implemented reform. Additionally, shared parenting has received high-profile endorsements, including support from the Catholic Church as well as the 2015 International Conference on Shared Parenting.
Missouri mother, grandmother and National Parents Organization member Linda Reutzel of Cape Girardeau has been heavily involved in local shared parenting advocacy efforts. She said, “Children have an intrinsic right to two fit parents, and with too many Missouri children unnecessarily losing out on this right through the years, the children of Missouri cannot wait any longer. It is time for our state to step up as a national champion for children.”
RECENT RESEARCH: SHARED PARENTING VERSUS SINGLE PARENTING
Shared Parenting Data
· The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health published a 150,000-person study titled “Fifty moves a year: Is there an association between joint physical custody and psychosomatic problems in children?” in May 2015 that concluded shared parenting after divorce or separation is in the best interest of children’s health because the arrangement lowers their stress levels.
· The Journal of the American Psychological Association published a paper titled “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report” in 2014, and the conclusions were endorsed by 110 eminent authorities around the world. Authored by Dr. Richard Warshak at the University of Texas, the paper concluded, “… shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.”
· The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) published the recommendations of 32 family law experts in 2014, and the group concluded, “Children’s best interests are furthered by parenting plans that provide for continuing and shared parenting relationships that are safe, secure, and developmentally responsive and that also avoid a template calling for a specific division of time imposed on all families.”
Single Parenting Data
According to federal statistics from sources including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Census Bureau, 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; and
• 90% of homeless and runaway children.
ABOUT NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
National Parents Organization, a charitable and educational 501 (c)(3) organization, seeks better lives for children through family law reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers after divorce or separation. The organization is focused on promoting shared parenting and preserving a child’s strong bond with both parents, which is critically important to their emotional, mental, and physical health. In 2014, National Parents Organization released the Shared Parenting Report Card, the first study to rank the states on child custody laws. Visit the National Parents Organization website at www.nationaparentsorganization.org.