The Genocide of Battered Mothers and their Children

Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

The New Battleground of Child Custody Reform: Shared Parenting

In domestic law on July 20, 2011 at 2:34 pm

This article comes 99% of the way toward directly admitting that men want
“shared parenting” to eliminate child support!

Amplify’d from

Child custody and support laws have become more onerous over the last 50 years due to fewer parents staying together and women becoming equally as capable as men at earning a living outside the home. Instead of reflecting these changes, the laws have lagged behind, continuing to favor mothers over fathers. The laws generally award primary custody to the parent who spent more time at home with the children and less time working, even if the difference was miniscule. The other parent is then ordered to pay a crushing amount of child support, sometimes on top of alimony. In a small percentage of situations, usually where the father was the primary caregiver, this situation is reversed and the laws punish the mother.

Fathers have reacted over the years in different ways. Some fathers’ rights activists in Britain dress up as super heroes and scale public buildings to draw attention to the inequity. The founder of Fathers 4 Justice, Matt O’Connor, started a hunger strike for equal parenting earlier this month outside the home of British Prime Minister David Cameron. Some fatherstragically commit suicide. Last month, a distraught father immolated himself on the steps of a courthouse in New Hampshire, after mailing a 15-page “last statement” to the local newspaper detailing his final frustrations with the child custody legal system. The most high-profile victim of the child custody system, actor Alec Baldwin, helped bring exposure to the unfairness by writing a book about his experience.

Although a few small changes have been made to the laws within the last few years, due to exposure and the efforts of advocacy organizations, there has not been significant progress. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 84 percent of custodial parents are mothers, a figure that has not changed since 1983. This is unfortunate, because Canadian economist Paul Miller analyzed data on families and foundthat “parental gender is not a…predictor at all of any of the child outcomes examined, that is behavioral, educational or health outcomes.” The children often end up with “Parental Alienation Syndrome,” developing a dislike for the noncustodial parent bought on by the custodial parent. Long term studies of children in the U.S. and New Zealand have found there is a direct correlation between a father’s absence and teen pregnancy.

The latest effort to change the system calls for “shared parenting.” Although advocacy groups differ on how shared parenting would be implemented, it generally consists of making the default custody arrangement 50/50 joint physical and legal custody when parents split up, absent egregious circumstances. This would replace the current system which leaves it up to a judge’s whim to decide what constitutes “the best interests of the child.” Shared parenting bills are being introduced in state legislatures around the country, and several states now have some version of shared parenting. In those states, studies are finding that divorce rates are lower and the children are better adjusted.

In addition to passing shared parenting laws, there must be tougher requirements for issuing restraining orders and reform of child support laws. 50/50 shared custody should not include child support unless there are egregious circumstances. Child support creates an incentive to continue fighting. Neither parent wants to get stuck paying it, and some parents greedily want it as a source of income to use as they please, since there is little monitoring of how it is spent. Eliminate child support in all but the most egregious situations, and most of the fighting clogging our family courts will cease.

The “deadbeat dad” roundups by law enforcement of fathers who are behind in child support needs to stop. Many of them are fathers who were not lucky enough to be awarded custody, and are now working two jobs just to try and keep up with expenses and child support. Figures from the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement solution lies in renewing the importance of marriage. He proposes eliminating no-fault divorce laws and requiring couples where only one spouse wants a divorce to work out the divorce agreement themselves. This would disincentivize divorce, since couples could no longer simply run to court to end the marriage, but would be forced to work with each other to come up with a custody situation they both agree to. Currently, marriage is about the only kind of contract where one party can unilaterally end the contract. The Center for Marriage Policy recommends shared parenting that would place a child primarily with one parent for the first half of their childhood, then with the second parent for their later years.

The small changes that have been made in recent years are encouraging. Thanks to organizations likeFathers and Families, last year Massachusetts, which has some of the most punishing child support laws in the country, reduced the interest on overdue child support by 50%. Legislation has been passed in several states around the country within the past year protecting disabled and military parents from child custody abuses. As families continue to modernize, and more women also suffer the effects of outdated child custody laws, the laws will be finally forced to keep up. It may just not be in our lifetime. This is a new kind of civil rights struggle, and one day our great-grandchildren will look back and remember their forefathers who fought so hard for their right to have meaningful time with both parents.



The Case Against Joint Physical Custody

In domestic law on July 10, 2011 at 4:14 pm
Amplify’d from

We’ve come a long way since we were children and mothers were routinely given full custody of the children and fathers frequently disappeared and less frequently received a standard visitation schedule of every other weekend visits. In fact, we’ve come so far that now many courts don’t call it “visitation” but more aptly, “Parenting time”.

We have seen the damage done to children raised without male role models. We have learned our lessons. Now we believe that any child deserves to share as much time as possible with both parents, if they are willing. Most courts will now consider a joint physical custody request and many states will now grant it barring any information presented that would make this sort of arrangement unhealthy for the children.

Although a child’s need for a healthy relationship with BOTH parents can’t be denied, I believe the extreme turn toward promoting shared custody of children is yet another trend with unforeseen consequences to children and families, alike.

Because of the newer popularity of these arrangements, I know more and more families who share custody. Of all the families I know, none are truly satisfied and most have an extremely unhealthy family dynamic. I am sure cases exist where both parents and all involved children are very satisfied; however I think this is the exception rather than the rule unfortunately.

So what has gone wrong?

In theory joint custody sounds terrific. The children get the best of both worlds, time with both parents. They grow up without any of the trauma associated with divorce because they remain in frequent contact with both parents who interact as a solid co-parenting unit, just like in an intact family.

The problem is the reality rarely looks like this. The reality is that many parents are simply “settling” for shared custody because they fear the money, time and emotional energy they would lose in a full custody fight. Some parents consider the way their ex-spouse parented within the marriage to be of little consequence and don’t foresee any problems with sharing. Many parents consider their own needs and the benefits of shared parenting on their own schedules, logistically. This can be a huge motivation for newly single parents to share custody. Raising kids alone is hard work. Sharing the responsibilities is certainly appealing.

But then reality sets in for many of these parents and their children. Some children truly thrive on consistency and often the only type of consistency available in a shared custody arrangement is the consistency that nothing will be consistent! As children grow, their needs change and they have more and more need to develop roots within their community. It can be difficult or impossible for a child to feel settled when their physical environment is changing all the time. When kids become teens, their social network can become seemingly more important than their familial network and being taken away from sports, activities and friends to spend equal time in another environment will often not work at all. Those are all factors that most parents can’t control unless they live in the same area as each other.

But there are problems that even parents who are neighbors often can’t avoid. It is not unusual for divorced parents to “come out of their shell”, to change and alter how their parent their children without the influence of another adult to take into consideration. Shared parenting situations require that both parents continue to take into consideration each other’s needs, concerns and opinions and work together. When one or both single parents try to “grow into their own” as single parents, working together can seem impossible. You might find that many of the areas you used to agree on are no longer areas of agreement. You might find values and standards that you took for granted within the marriage are nothing like you thought they would be. You might find that one parent or both are too busy or too tired to enforce the rules or communicate the rules between the households. Disciplinary consistency is almost impossible in joint custody homes.

Many of the same conflicts that existed during the marriage and led to divorce will be present, often at even higher levels, in the post-divorce relationship. How you split expenses and child support can be simple in shared custody situations or it can be excruciating.

When one or both parents remarry, the opportunity for problems grows exponentially. Now, not only are you trying to continue to peacefully and respectfully co-parent between two parents who could not even get along well enough to remain married but add in one or two additional new parents to the mix who bring with them their own expectations, values, interests, concerns and opinions. Parents who managed to peacefully co-parent before are often taken aback completely when the other parent remarries and suddenly changes in many ways.

Last, but certainly not least, there is the baggage. Like it or not, both women and men often carry emotional baggage that they have yet to heal from their divorce. This baggage all to often is transferred onto the kids. All of the all-too-common mistakes made in Top 12 Divorced Parenting Mistakes still appear in shared parenting situations, quite often. And when they do, the consequences can be heightened as the opportunity for conflict, alienation, putting children in the middle, emotionally inappropriate parenting and lack of discipline grow with the frequency of transferring kids between homes.

Parents should think long and hard about the short and long term challenges of shared parenting for their children and themselves. Every relationship is different and unique and brings with it challenges that some may be able to work through and others simply won’t. Shared parenting shouldn’t ever be entered into as a compromise for parents who both want full custody. Instead it should always be entered into as a choice made for the children who both deserve as much time as possible with both parents.



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