NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
February 21, 2017
Missouri lawmakers have the opportunity to improve children’s educational achievements, decrease their use of drugs, and improve their overall health and adjustment without any cost to the taxpayer by passing SB 377 and HB 724 into law. With these benefits to hundreds of thousands of Missouri children in mind, National Parents Organization urges legislators to immediately schedule hearings for the proposal with the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Seniors, Families and Children Committee.
The legislation embraces parental equality and shared parenting – a flexible arrangement where children spend as close to equal time as possible with each parent after divorce or separation. Last year, Missouri passed a bill supportive of shared parenting, and this year’s bill builds on the new law by proposing a rebuttable presumption that child custody arrangements awarding equal parenting time are in the best interest of the child, with exceptions if a parent is unfit or there has been domestic violence.
“While the law enacted last year was a good start, passage of the new bill would go further in helping to ensure that children receive the consistent love and care of not one, but both parents after separation or divorce,” said Linda Reutzel, a Missouri grandmother and chair of National Parents Organization of Missouri. “We can’t afford to allow our broken family court system to continue with the sole custody status quo – our children can’t be deprived of either parent any longer. Thank you to Rep. Kathy Swan and Sen. Wayne Wallingford for recognizing this pressing need by sponsoring this crucial legislation.”
While shared parenting remains unusual, a trend toward shared parenting has developed in recent years. It has been the usual arrangement for several years in Sweden and Australia, and research there has shown much better outcomes for children. A handful of states in the U.S. have benefited from laws supportive of this arrangement for several years. Plus, in the last year alone, shared parenting reform in Florida made it all the way to the Governor’s desk, and Washington, Texas, North Dakota, Massachusetts, West Virginia and others have joined Missouri in considering shared parenting this year. At the same time, research continues to show that shared parenting is in the best interest of children when their parents divorce or separate.
“It is wonderful that Missouri has this historic opportunity to move child custody laws in line with gender equality as well as the overwhelming body of research showing that most children desperately want and need shared parenting after divorce or separation,” Dr. Ned Holstein, Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization, said. “I urge Missouri lawmakers to swiftly move this proposal into law. Instead of setting up parents for a bitter and unnecessary custody battle, the bill will allow families to heal from the pain of divorce and separation from a position of equality and co-parenting.”
RECENT RESEARCH: SHARED PARENTING VERSUS SINGLE PARENTING
Shared Parenting Data
- 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.”
- In 2016, Dr. Warshak wrote, “Two years after its publication, the conclusions and recommendations of the Warshak consensus report remain supported by science.” He also wrote, “The paper has been translated into at least eighteen languages and has informed legislative deliberations throughout the U.S. and parliamentary deliberations in several countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, Finland, Romania, Croatia, and Sweden. Two years after its publication, the consensus report continues to be one of the most downloaded papers from the journal’s website.” He added, “The list of endorsers and their stature and accomplishments reflect the field’s general acceptance of the consensus report’s findings as rooted in settled science from more than four decades of research directly relevant to this topic, including seminal studies by many of the endorsers.”
- 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 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.”
- In December, 2016, The American Psychological Association published research by William V. Fabricius of Arizona State University in the journal Psychology, Public Policy and Law entitled, “Should Infants and Toddlers Have Frequent Overnight Parenting Time With Fathers? The Policy Debate and New Data.” Prof Fabricius’ findings provide “… strong support for policies to encourage frequent overnight parenting time [up to and including 50/50 overnights –Ed] for infants and toddlers [even younger than one year –Ed], because the benefits [for children-Ed] associated with overnights also held for parents who initially agreed about overnights as well as for those who disagreed and had the overnight parenting plan imposed over 1 parent’s objections.”
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.nationalparentsorganization.org