NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
March 18, 2015
SINGLE PARENT APPRECIATION DAY REMINDS OF NEED FOR FAMILY COURT REFORM
17 STATE LEGISLATURES CURRENTLY CONSIDERING SHARED PARENTING LAWS
BOSTON – While the calendar calls Saturday, March 21, Single Parent Appreciation Day, National Parents Organization emphasizes that to truly appreciate single parents, we must reform our nation’s family courts in ways that encourage parental equality and shared parenting in instances of divorce or separation.
Fortunately, at least 17 states are currently considering shared parenting legislation that would reform a system that favors one parent over another in an overwhelming majority of instances – according to the U.S. Census Bureau, sole custody is awarded to one parent in about 83 percent of cases.
With active legislation in at least one-third of our nation’s states, communities across the nation are sending a message that the status quo in our family courts is no longer acceptable considering not only the negative impacts on parents of our modern families but more importantly, the negative impacts on our children (see below: Single Parenting Versus Shared Parenting).
While family courts routinely operate under a 1950s model that places parents on unequal footing, recent comprehensive reviews of child development research show that children thrive with shared parenting following separation or divorce.
For instance, the American Psychological Association recently published a report by prominent University of Texas psychologist Richard Warshak, titled “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report,” which was signed by 110 child development experts and concludes “Shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.” In addition, federal statistics show the alarming impact that single parenting has on children (see “Single Parenting Versus Shared Parenting” below).
Despite the research, parents seeking shared parenting after divorce or separation face an uphill battle. National Parents Organization recently published an inaugural Shared Parenting Report Card that issued each state’s child custody statutes a grade, A through F, and the results show most states’ laws work against shared parenting.
When President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first National Single Parent Day in 1984, his proclamation read, “Single parents deserve our recognition and appreciation for their demonstrated dedication to their young.” This National Single Parent Day, National Parents Organization invites others to join efforts to reform family courts so that single parents have a true reason to celebrate.
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.
SINGLE PARENTING VERSUS SHARED PARENTING
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Census Bureau and numerous researchers have reported alarming outcomes for the 35% of children who are raised by single parents. Yet, until now, this factor has been largely ignored in the conversation about child wellbeing.
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.
Whether the problem is emotional disturbances of children, drug use, alcohol use, teen pregnancy, poor performance in school, trouble with the law or running with gangs, being raised by a single parent is a powerful risk factor. For many of these outcomes, single parenting is a stronger risk factor than race or poverty. Conversely, children on average do much better on all these measures if they have shared parenting. Children ardently desire shared parenting in most cases and are happier with it.
For parents, shared parenting significantly increases child support compliance, diminishes parental conflict and domestic violence and allows both parents to pursue their careers, social lives and other interests without the burden of singlehandedly raising a child.
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.