NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
BOSTON — With a bill encouraging shared parenting and parental equality after divorce arriving on Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk earlier this week — Wednesday, May 25 — National Parents Organization urges the Governor to waste no time in signing the bill into law. If the Governor signs the bill, HB 1550, Missouri will join the list of states with child custody laws supportive of children experiencing the continued love and support of not just one, but both, of their parents after divorce or separation.
“Thank you, Missouri legislators, for voting to bring state child custody laws in line with 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. “Too many families have suffered from the family courts’ outdated preference for giving sole custody to one parent. I urge Gov. Nixon to act on his historic opportunity to sign HB 1550 into law. Instead of setting up parents for a bitter and unnecessary custody battle, HB 1550 will allow families to heal from the pain of divorce and separation from a position of equality and co-parenting.”
Shared parenting – a flexible arrangement where children spend as close to equal time as possible with each parent after divorce or separation – remains unusual. However, a broad trend towards shared parenting has developed in recent years. A handful of states have benefited from laws supportive of the arrangement for several years. In the past couple of years, a few more states including Utah, South Dakota and Minnesota, have added laws that encourage shared parenting. As the Wall Street Journal revealed, nearly 20 more states have considered similar proposals over the past eight months.
Missouri’s HB 1550, which unanimously passed the Missouri Senate and passed the House with a 154-2 vote, works to move shared parenting from the exception to the norm in multiple ways, including that the bill:
· Creates guidelines for parenting plans that “maximize to the highest degree the amount of time the child may spend with each parent;”
· Requires courts to disclose why shared parenting wasn’t awarded if another arrangement is ordered;
· Requires courts to provide written findings and conclusions in a custody case, which makes the case appealable if a party disagrees with judgement.
· Specifies that courts can’t “presume that a parent, solely because of his or her sex, is more qualified than the other parent;”
· Prohibits local courts from establishing their own rules, such as having a default parenting plan.
National Parents Organization of Missouri member Linda Reutzel, a mother and grandmother, said, “As someone who has seen first-hand how our current family court system unnecessarily tears families apart, I see HB 1550 as a wonderful first step on the road toward ensuring that all Missouri children thrive when their parents divorce or separate.”
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.”
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.
Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S., Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization
A regular contributor to local and national media, Dr. Holstein is Founder and Chair of the Board of National Parents Organization. Dr. Holstein was appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts to the Massachusetts Working Group on Child Centered Family Law, and he was previously appointed by a Massachusetts Chief Justice to a task force charged with reviewing and revising the state’s child support guidelines.
A graduate of Harvard College, Dr. Holstein also earned a Master’s degree in psychology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His medical degree is from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he serves on the faculty.
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.