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News from Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts and North Dakota

February 12, 2015
By Ned Holstein, MD, MS, Founder and Acting Executive Director, National Parents Organization

Tom Brady
Tom Brady

There is a lot going on around the country in our movement. Here is a sampling of activities in a few states. We would love to post information from your state too, so just let us know what you are doing!

Arizona

Check out this great picture of Tom Brady and his kids on the field in Glendale, Arizona after winning the Super Bowl.

OK, OK, I’m from Boston and I love the Patriots and everyone else hates Brady and the Patriots, but seriously, as these photos and story make clear, Brady and his ex-girlfriend Bridget Moynahan have put aside their differences and are a great model of shared parenting. Speaking of models, Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen, is a supermodel. She and Bridget have done a great job of cooperating to help make shared parenting possible for Brady and Moynahan’s son, John.

Alright, full disclosure, I guess it’s a lot easier to get shared parenting, and to do it, when you make something like $16 million and your wife earns three times that!

California

At last!  A judge got mad enough at Child Protective Services for riding roughshod over parental rights (translation: terrifying a couple of kids by suddenly tearing them out of their home and sticking them in a foster home with total strangers) that he fined the state $1.1 million.

It’s hard to tell how long they were gone from their parents, but still, Hooray!  About time that some of these arrogant, misguided know-it-all’s were pulled up short.

Read the details here.

Colorado

National Parents Organization of Colorado, together with others, testified at a Colorado Senate Hearing on Wednesday, February 11 in support of Senate Bill 15-129. This is a long bill with many provisions. They include a section that would allow a parent who is the target of a restraining order to have an expedited hearing in order to restore parenting time. It would also narrow the scope of investigation that could be done by custody evaluators and child family investigators, known in Colorado as CFIs. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it would require the court to assign substantially equal parenting time for both temporary and permanent orders unless doing so would endanger a child’s physical health or emotional development. The Bill was heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee last evening and, after amendments, passed committee by a vote of 3 to 2 along party lines with Republicans favoring and Democrats against. The amendments did not substantially alter the guidance to the courts to assign substantially equal parenting time unless doing so would endanger a child’s physical health or emotional development. The bill must pass through the Appropriations Committee as well as other hurdles, so your help is welcome.

If you would like to join efforts to reform the family courts in Colorado, contact National Parents Organization’s Chairman in Colorado, Gilbert Tso at gilberttso@nationalparentsorganization.org

Hawaii

We received this great email a few days ago from Chris Lethem, the National Parents Organization Chairman in Hawaii:

Great Work Everyone!!

This is Chris Lethem, Hawaii Chair. 

So far I have convinced a member of the house and senate to re-introduce the Parental Parity Bill that was vetoed by the governor last year.  [This bill, passed by the Hawaii Legislature last year but vetoed by the Governor, apparently for “technical” reasons, includes the following language:

If the parents live in the same county or school district, custody and visitation shall be shared equally, unless the court finds that a parent is unable to provide for the best interests of the child or there is sufficient evidence of any past or current family violence between the parents or by a parent in the presence of the child.”—Ed]

I have also convinced both of them to introduce the Temporary Custody Bill

[a bill that creates a rebuttable presumption of shared physical custody during temporary orders  —Ed]

and just got word that Senator Mike Gabbord will introduce my bill to reform the CSEA to ensure child support payments for college kids goes directly to the student and also ensures students only collect child support if they can show proof they are a full time student.

One other aspect of this bill ensures that if the child is not living full time with the custodial parent, then both parents will be obliged to provide funds to the student and not just the non-custodial parent. Imagine legislation that says both parents should be contributing to a child, not just one of them.

Wish me luck I still have 3 more bills I am trying to get calendared for this legislative session. Tomorrow is the beginning of our 2015 legislative session which is by constitution limited to 100 days.  Also my new TV show is available for viewing on youtube. I will notify you of specific shows related to Family Court and CSEA.

My show is called “The Economy and You” from ThinkTech. 
I look forward to hearing from whenever you have a moment to respond.

Aloha
Chris Lethem

If you live in Hawaii, jump in and help Chris make this into law. The Hawaii Legislature meets for only 100 days, so act NOW! Chris can be contacted at crslethem@gmail.com

Massachusetts

Several newsworthy events have transpired in Massachusetts in recent days.

First, let’s get the bad news out of the way: The highest court in Massachusetts, the Supreme Judicial Court, rolled back the clear intention of the Legislature on two important issues concerning alimony.

Under the brilliant leadership of Steve Hitner, now working with National Parents Organization, Massachusetts passed a sweeping alimony reform laws several years ago. The law went into effect on March 1, 2012. It has become the model for alimony reform in many states around the country. The law held, in part, that alimony would cease if the recipient cohabitated with a new partner (just as it ceases if she/he marries a new partner),  and also, that it would cease when the payer reached normal retirement age.

Unfortunately, the Court held that these provisions apply only to alimony orders that were promulgated after March 1, 2012, and did not apply to old alimony orders.

Hitner has written,

“Shall no longer means shall!”

“It is obvious to me that the Judges on the SJC continue to hold onto the antiquated and draconian philosophy that encouraged the legislature to vote unanimously to enact the Alimony Reform Act of 2011.   They knew the outcome they wanted and figured out the words to manipulate to get what they wanted.  The word “Shall” no longer means (as defined in the dictionary) “used to give a command or to say that you will or will not allow something to happen”.

“We “Shall” fight this, and with your help, we “Shall” get back what was taken from the citizens of the Commonwealth.” 

“Everyone deserves the right to retire and not have to pay lifetime support for an ex’s  significant other.”

If you want to help Steve push back against these rulings, contact him at steveh@massalimonyreform.org

Also from Massachusetts

Now here is some good news.

Massachusetts has long had some of the worst case law in the country on removals (allowing the custodial parent to move out of state with the children).  The Massachusetts case law uses fancy language to say, basically, if the move is good for the custodial parent, it must be good for the kids. Imagine the feeling of being told that the best thing for your child is that she should move 2000 miles away from you!

This got a little better some years back, when new case law gave much more stringent restrictions on removals if the parents had joint physical custody.

As explained by Stefan Jouret, a Massachusetts family law attorney and member of National Parents Organization:

On January 30, 2015, the Massachusetts Appeals Court issued an unpublished decision affirming a decision of the Probate and Family Court denying a mother’s attempt to remove her minor child from Massachusetts to Utah.  In the case, English v. English, 2015 Mass. App. Unpub. LEXIS 62 (No. 14-P-619), the Appeals Court noted that the trial court judge had made detailed and substantial findings of fact concerning the mother’s request to remove the eight year old child and had “determined that such a removal would not serve the child’s best interests.” 

On appeal, the mother advanced several arguments, including an argument that the judge used an incorrect standard.

The Appeals Court rejected that argument, concluding that the trial court applied the correct standard, given the fact that the parties shared both legal and physical custody of the child, and the trial court finding that the child lives with the father between fifty percent and sixty percent of the time.  The Appeals Court also rejected the argument that a different result should prevail if the mother contributed more financially to the support of the child.  In the end, the Appeals Court affirmed the trial court’s findings that a move to Utah, and the significant disruption to the child’s life that it would involve, would not be in the best interests of the child.

Stefan L. Jouret, Esq.
Jouret & Samito LLP
Boston

If you would like to know more, attorney Jouret can be reached at Jouret@JouretSamito.com

No. 3 From Massachusetts

National Parents Organization has played a major role in introducing a completely revised custody statute as a bill in the Massachusetts Legislature. This bill encourages shared parenting, and contains many other favorable provisions. It has more political support then any previous bill of its kind.

Through the energetic activism of National Parents Organization members in Massachusetts over the past few weeks, we recently obtained 46 co-sponsors of this bill!

Wednesday evening, February 11, several National Parents Organization members drove through the high snowbanks to attend a community meeting in Worcester, at which eight Senators were present (one-fifth of the Senate!), including the Senate President. In this display of good old-fashioned activism, they told the assembled Senators that Massachusetts citizens want shared parenting.  Jack Generelli deserves a shout-out for organizing this effort.

The legislators are now on notice: this is just the beginning! We are not going to let up until we win!

Similar events are scheduled for February 23 in Lawrence and February 25 in Braintree. We want YOU to be there, and we will teach you a few simple pointers so it will be easy. If we want to win, we MUST be there in force!

If you want to help make this excellent bill into law, please contact Steve Hitner at SteveHitner@NationalParentsOrganization.org

North Dakota

Suppose you were required by law to join some organization in order to make your living in your chosen field. And suppose to join that organization you had to pay substantial dues. And suppose that organization used your dues to lobby for laws that you hate. How would you feel about that?

Well, to practice law in North Dakota, like many states, you have to pay dues every year to join the Bar Association.  And it just so happens that the Bar Association of North Dakota spent about $50,000 last year on advertising to defeat a shared parenting referendum put in front of the voters.

Last week, the Goldwater Institute filed a federal lawsuit against the North Dakota Bar Association on behalf of a North Dakota attorney that supports shared parenting. The law suit alleges that the Bar Association violated the attorney’s first amendment rights by spending member dues to fight a legislative proposal that favors shared parenting. The lawsuit follows a nearly identical lawsuit against the Nebraska Bar Association that was settled [successfully for the plaintiff] last year.

If you live in a so-called “mandatory” state, where an attorney is required to pay dues and join the Bar Association in order to practice, and if the Bar Association expends funds to support or oppose legislation, you may have a tool to stop them.But be sure to check out the ifs, ands and buts!

Together with you in the love of our children, and in doing something about it,

Ned Holstein, MD, MS
Founder and Acting Executive Director
National Parents Organization

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