Recently, I got an interesting press release from the National Parents Organization, which said the organization believes “… that a powerful measure to reduce the number of mass shootings is going unexplored.”
That sentence caught my attention and I read on: According to the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, “The most reliable indicator of violent crime in a community is the proportion of fatherless families. Fatherless families, in turn, are caused in part by family courts that exclude fathers from post-divorce parenting. By instituting shared parenting after divorce or separation, fathers would be allowed to continue to show their sons the right way to grow into manhood.”
It has always baffled me that the bulk of the parenting seems to be placed on the mother whenever there is a divorce or separation. Many women who go through this trying time, must raise their children with a cut in income and/or a change in their lifestyle. Many, who had never worked outside the home, find themselves in the job market when often their only skills have been as stay-at-home moms. It is a rude awakening when this happens to a family — especially where there are male children involved.
In the release, Dr. Ned Holstein, founder and board chair of National Parents Organization said: “Unfortunately, however, our nation’s family courts prevent millions of divorced and separated fathers from having meaningful relationships with their children, which only leave their children more vulnerable to this unfortunate behavior.”
“The repeat narrative is deeply troubling,” Holstein said. “An individual who grew up without the love and support of both parents turns to unfathomable, deadly gun violence. This must stop, and one piece of the solution is to ensure children have both parents intimately involved in their lives after separation or divorce… With this in mind, I urge legislators in all states to join the family court reform movement to make shared parenting the new status quo in our society, if both parents are fit and there has been no significant domestic violence.”
Well, now. I agree to most of what Holstein has to say about this serious matter. But not all boys who grew up without the love and support of both parents turn to “unfathomable deadly gun violence.” I know of one who grew up in a fatherless home, and became the president of the United States.
Still, as a single mom who raised two sons, I know how frustrating it can be for a mom who must work outside the home and still is expected to instill all the positive male values in her son or sons. It is a hard hill to climb. It is hard to know who to trust with your children. In my case, I turned to the pastor and other godly men at my church to help me with the upbringing of my sons. It was a blessing to me as well as to my sons. I realize, though, that this isn’t the case with a lot of women. It is hard to know who to trust with your children.
While it is true our family courts must do more to move toward shared parenting whenever there is a divorce or separation in a family, an old saying comes to my mind concerning laws to make this possible: You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. In other words, the lawmakers can make the law, but enforcing it is still something else. There is no law to make a person love his or her children. Love can’t be legislated. We simply have to trust the courts to do the right thing whenever the law is broken.
The bottom line is still this: “… Our children need both parents in their lives to thrive,” Holstein said. “For this reason, lawmakers in every state must move forward with family court reform as soon as possible.”
I spoke with Holstein, who lives in Massachusetts, by phone. He said strides are being made. Within the past year, at least 22 states — Florida included — have passed and implemented legislation supportive of shared parenting after divorce or separation whenever the parents are fit.
December Conference in Germany on Shared Parenting a Unique Opportunity
Don’t forget to register for the December 9th through 11th conference of the International Council on Shared Parenting in Bonn, Germany described in last week’s newsletter, it will give you access to important information on shared parenting that is not widely available in the U.S. This information could help in your individual case. And professionals will need this information to remain fully informed on one of the most important issues of the day.
On October 3, a good crowd turned out to view the hard-hitting documentary, DivorceCorp, sponsored by the Maryland chapter of National Parents Organization in Laurel, Maryland. The film, directed by Joseph Sorge and narrated by Dr. Drew, sheds light on the ways in which family courts operate as a “big business” that profits at the expense of families.
National Parents Organization Moving Forward in Virginia
“Child Support Guidelines” refers to a formula that determines how much child support is required to be paid. Each state writes its own Guidelines. Typically, a state’s formula takes into account things such as how many children there are, how old they are, and the income of each parent. In a few states, it also takes into account how the parenting time is divided between the parents.
National Parents Organization Members Push for Shared Parenting Legislation in Massachusetts
Massachusetts members continue to support shared parenting legislation with phone calls to their legislators. Recently, the in-boxes of numerous legislators became full due to these efforts (although it is not our intention to harass or cause inconvenience). And soon there will be membership meetings around the state to plan further actions in support of Senate Bill S834. If you are willing to help organize a meeting in your area, contact our Organizer, Bram Haver, at BramHaver@yahoo.com. Bram will give you all the help you need.
Barbara Kay: How the Tories abandoned desperate fathers
I had a bad moment last week, and it’s (largely) Stephen Harper’s fault.
Walking home from the grocery store, my mobile rang. It was a young father I’ll call Kassim, who is in a nightmarish court battle to maintain his bond with a daughter being systematically alienated by a (well-documented) vengeful mother. Expert witnesses have endorsed him as a loving, competent and responsible father. Nevertheless, the Court arbitrarily cancelled Kassim’s access when the mother suddenly “recalled” an alleged instance of domestic abuse three years previously she had never before mentioned to anyone. Stunned and distraught, Kassim struggled for composure, but ended the call, weeping, “I’m losing my child.”
There was nothing I could do for him but commiserate and recommend a support group. I was shaken, and furious on his behalf. And not just for Kassim, but for the hundreds of other fathers with cases similar to his that arrive in a steady flow to my inbox. As I write sympathetically about fathers’ rights, they think I must have some power to help them. I don’t, of course. I can only bring the systemic bias toward mothers in family court’s contested custody cases to public attention. That is a small comfort to those suffering injustice, but the courts themselves are indifferent to media criticism.
Stephen Harper resisted modernizing the culturally-superannuated Divorce Act
Family law is a lot like 24 Sussex. The façade is imposing, but the working parts have deteriorated past mere discomfort to near-dysfunction. Everyone knows the mansion’s a mess, but prime ministers — notably Stephen Harper — have feared the optics of a costly renovation. Similarly, Stephen Harper resisted modernizing the culturally-superannuated Divorce Act — that is, making equal shared parenting (ESP) the default after separation to reflect the gender-equality paradigm in modern marriages — because, fearing the wrath of progressive ideologues, he didn’t want even to appear to believe that fathers are as important to their children as mothers.
Numerous task forces and reports by the nation’s most respected juridical brain trusts have exposed the toxic insulation, corroded wiring and crumbling foundations of family court. ESP has allegedly been part of the Conservative party platform since 2004. About 80 per cent of Canadians (almost 90 per cent in Quebec) have consistently polled favourably toward ESP during Harper’s years in office. Yet, when push came to shove with the introduction last winter of (recently-retired) MP Maurice Vellacott’s Bill C-560, to amend the Divorce Act by creating a presumption in favour of ESP (rebuttable in cases where the child’s protection from one or the other parent was necessary), Harper ensured it would fail by instructing his entire cabinet, several of whom were inclined to support the bill, to squash it.
So much for the famous Harper “hidden agenda” on social issues, even on a popular no-brainer like ESP. C-560 was an opportunity to entrench several Supreme Court rulings on parental rights — indeed, rulings based in s.7 Charter rights, which severely circumscribe the ability of authorities to apprehend or make decisions on behalf of a child in usurpation of the parental role — and as well to curtail the ideological activism of individual judges in defining the “best interests of the child” (one female B.C. judge recently responded to a teenage girl who expressed the wish to live with her father, “We’ll see where you go when I put your father on the street with nothing”). C-560 would have spared Kassim and other loving fathers the cruel injustice he is enduring.
But no. The Harper government coolly turned its back on a mountain of credible evidence demonstrating the superiority of ESP as a default, and the devastating effects on children of parent absence, which in reality usually means father absence. Some variation of ESP is currently the norm or under consideration in a number of U.S. states and European countries and Australia, where over 70 per cent of parents are now able to resolve post-divorce parenting arrangements without the use of legal services. More than 30 recent large-scale studies show significantly better outcomes for both children and parents with ESP arrangements. All ignored by the Harper government.
But the Harper government did pay attention to C-560-resistant bar associations, who represent those whose financial interests are best served by the status quo. That’s like asking companies whose sole service is fixing window air conditioning units at 24 Sussex how they feel about the installation of central air.
With the Liberals (who opposed C-560) now in power under the leadership of a more-feminist-than-thou prime minister, ESP will doubtless be shelved for the foreseeable future. Stephen Harper’s failure to renovate the derelict mansion of family law, which would have saved public money (family law represents 35 per cent of civil cases), ended the barbarism of winner-take-all custody battles, and ensured that children maintain their desired bond with both parents, will be remembered as an ineradicable stain on his political legacy.