NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
June 15, 2016
BOSTON – This Father’s Day, National Parents Organization recognizes all dads, but in particular the forgotten single dad by advocating for shared parenting as the norm, rather than the exception, when parents divorce or separate.
“Single fathers are noticed very little even though they are big — about 25% to 35% of all fathers are non-custodial, or single, dads, and a tiny percentage are sole-custody parents. Even on Father’s Day, we typically imagine the standard two-parent family,” Dr. Ned Holstein, M.D., Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization, said. “If we want a better life for families, lawmakers in every state must reform the family courts in ways that embrace the two-parent solution of shared parenting when parents have separated. And we must take anti-father gender bias out of the courts as well.”
Shared parenting – where children spend as close to equal time as possible with each parent after divorce or separation – remains unusual while the sole custody tradition persists. The Wall Street Journal reports, however, that nearly 20 states have recently considered shared parenting laws. Within the past year alone, at least two states, Minnesota and Utah, have joined the handful of states with laws supportive of shared parenting, and in recent months, the legislation has passed the state legislature to reach the Governor’s desk in two states, Florida and Missouri. While the Florida Governor vetoed shared parenting and alimony reform, Missouri’s Governor has yet to act on the state’s bill.
The movement toward shared parenting aligns with the research on child wellbeing. Studies consistently show that shared parenting is in the best interest of children when parents divorce or separate in most cases. As just one recent example from the past year, the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health published a 150,000-person study that concluded shared parenting is in the best interest of children’s health. Plus, federal statistics continue to show the risks children face in the absence of shared parenting. Consider that, as just a few examples, children raised by single parents are significantly more at risk of dropping out of school, landing in prison or committing suicide when compared to children with shared parenting.
“On Father’s Day, let’s remember that children do much better with actively involved single dads. The family courts must stop placing obstacles in the way of single dads or our children will continue to suffer in unprecedented numbers from their absence,” Holstein said.
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.