NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
August 29, 2016
Twenty-three years ago this month, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed August as National Child Support Enforcement Month, focusing attention on a symptom of a much greater problem: a family court system that discourages shared parenting and gender equality in instances of divorce or separation.
An increasing amount of research shows that family courts should focus on what’s best for children by awarding shared parenting, or 50/50 custody, giving children equal time with both parents in instances of divorce or separation, when both parents are fit. Shared parenting can help resolve the delinquencies associated with child support, as well as problems associated with gender inequality, while ensuring children have the continued love and care of both parents.
The stats are also in favor of shared parenting: Fathers who have little or no contact with their children following a divorce pay about one-third of their child support, while fathers who regularly spend time with their children pay at least 85 percent of their child support, according to “Child-Custody Adjudication: Judicial Functions in the Face of Indeterminacy” by Harvard Law School Professor Robert H. Mnookin.
Additionally, about 30 percent of parents with sole custody report a one-year absence of child support payments, yet when shared parenting exists, a year without payments is non-existent, according to “Supporting children after divorce: The influence of custody on support levels and payments” by Center for Policy Research’s Jessica Pearson and Nancy Thoennes. In response to such research, a handful of states, including Missouri, Utah, South Dakota, and Minnesota, have passed laws that are beginning to move shared parenting from the exception to the norm. More than 20 states have considered similar proposals.
“In order to meet the needs of our modern families, we urge lawmakers to take this opportunity to address a negative reality in our society – our nation’s family courts continue to award sole custody, usually to the mother, in over 80 percent of child custody cases,” said Dr. Ned Holstein, founder of National Parents Organization. “Our organization recently released a report highlighting that many states are not only discouraging shared parenting, but they are also depriving children of what they benefit from most – ample time with both of their parents – while also enabling a system that fosters parental and gender inequality.”
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.
Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.
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, 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 later served on the faculty as a teacher and researcher.
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.