July 6, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
The move toward shared parenting in Scotland continues, albeit with difficulty. Families Need Fathers is the main organization there promoting children’s interests in maintaining real relationships with both parents post-divorce.
First, there seems to be a review of family law in the offing, and FNF means for changes to include a presumption that shared parenting is in children’s interests.
This year, both the SNP election manifesto and the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee stated that Scots family law should be reviewed.
Families Need Fathers Scotland (FNFS) proposes that any forthcoming review of family law should include a statement in favour of shared parenting.
In a report published at Holyrood and Strasbourg this week, FNF Scotland calls for a reformed Scottish family law to include shared parenting as its starting presumption rather than an outcome that has to be argued for often with great difficulty and at financial and emotional cost within the adversarial court system.
It argues that there is overwhelming evidence of the benefits to both parents and children of shared parenting from a broad range of studies and reports around the world. Children in shared parenting families have significantly better outcomes in terms of emotional, behavioural, and psychological well-being, as well as better physical health and better relationships with their father and their mother compared to those who are only brought up by one parent.
That’s of course nothing but the obvious, the truth that’s been known for decades now about the many benefits of fathers to children. But there’s more. As I’ve said too many times to count, by striking at the root of so many problems faced by children of single-parent homes, shared parenting would save the public money. It would reduce the need for things like alcohol and drug interventions, the police, educational interventions, psychological assistance, etc. Public resources could then be directed elsewhere or simply returned to the taxpayers in the form of lower taxes.
National manager of FNF Scotland, Ian Maxwell, said: “We believe a legislative commitment to the values of shared parenting would save the public purse in court time and legal aid funding (as well as the psychological drain on the parents and their children) of high octane disputes about controlling rather than sharing time. If the starting point for the parents is clear then the discussion becomes about practical arrangements.
Again, this is well known. If the presumption is for shared parenting, then disputes in family courts will almost invariably be kept to a minimum or vanish altogether. If parents know, going into a divorce, that neither will be favored over the other, that neither will lose or gain the children, then essentially the entire motivation to fight disappears. In fact, the divorce rate itself may decline if parents understand that neither will “win” the proceedings by getting the lion’s share of parenting time. Social science on shared parenting demonstrates its ability to reduce parental conflict.
And, contrary to the mewling of the National Organization for Women and other groups opposed to children having meaningful relationships with their dads post-divorce, shared parenting is good for women. The mother who normally finds herself buried under 75% – 100% of the parenting is, in a shared parenting regime, freed to do other things of her own choosing.
One mother who shares parenting time equally with the children’s father says: “I think us being separated is fairer for the children and we are all so much happier. I also think it means the boys have good relationships with both parents, they love both of us and we both love them and we reinforce this everyday.
“I also have a really healthy life outside of the children so there is more balance for me and then for the kids as well. I have time for myself that I didn’t have before, or where I did have it before I would feel guilty for leaving them, but now I don’t have this. I’m also more resourced to commit to the parenting side of things when I am responsible.”
That’s a good point. Less parenting time for Mom means she gets a break; the break means she’s a better, more rested, more focused parent than she would have been without it.
Then of course there’s good old-fashioned gender equality. As former NOW President Karen DeCrow told us over 30 years ago, we’ll never attain equality of the sexes as long as women spend so much of their time tending children. Mothers who spend the bulk of their time caring for kids don’t earn as much, save as much or advance as much in their careers as mothers with greater balance between work and family. The same sexist results in family courts mean fathers are denied one of the most basic of human needs – to love and maintain relationships with their children.
Of course NOW no longer hums along to DeCrow’s tune. It and other feminist organizations oppose every effort to improve family law in favor of fathers, mothers, children and the society at large. The reason is becoming ever clearer. Family courts have become the chief means by which the transfer of assets from men to women continues outside of marriage. That’s accomplished by division of property, child support and alimony, all of which favor women over men. Accordingly, irrespective of everything else, feminist organizations oppose change, even when it objectively benefits everyone.
Meanwhile, the second linked-to article raises and false issue that needs to be quashed.
There is a degree of chicken and egg about the debate over shared parenting. Why don’t we assume both separated parents will play a part in the raising of a childs?
One reason is the fact so many dads still take such a limited role in the lives of children they no longer live with. Research repeatedly paints a bleak picture – one in three children no longer see their dad a year after parents separate.
But if the courts and wider society always assume mothers are the main carers, how will that ever change?
The way that will change is for courts and policy makers to acknowledge the teachings of science related to children’s well-being and how they’re parented. Courts assume that the “main carer” during marriage should be the one to have primary custody post-divorce. That is incorrect. Children’s welfare depends on maintaining meaningful relationships with both parents. That’s true because, at a very early age, they attached to both parents and the loss of one is traumatic to them. It matters not a whit to kids who changed the diapers or who earned the money to buy them. The father who works every day to earn the family’s daily bread doesn’t place second in the parenting sweepstakes. He and Mom are equal in importance to their kids. Courts should for all time set aside the false assumption that there’s a hierarchy of parenting value. As social science demonstrates, there’s not. Period.
Good luck to Families Need Fathers in its drive to make shared parenting the law of Scotland. We’ll of course follow the process of remaking family law there.
National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization
National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved? Here’s how:
Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.
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