Making children the winners in custody cases

Winner Takes All - 2016Making children the winners in custody cases – The Washington Post

In her Oct. 11 letter, “Maryland courts put parents’ rights ahead of children’s safety,” Eileen King criticized Maryland’s newly established Commission on Child Custody Decision Making as a vehicle for emphasizing parents’ rights and joint custody. I wish to explain that joint custody is primarily for the children, not the parents.

Children love and need both parents. During marriage, there is automatic joint custody of all children.

Why should divorce erase a parent from a child’s life?Do what is right

Why should a family have to spend large sums of money on a potentially ruinous custody battle when those funds could go to benefit the child?

Why should one parent be reduced to spending only a few days a month with a child, if he or she is ready, willing and able to be a capable parent?

The children suffer the most in such arrangements because, as many child experts point out, children benefit from bonding with two parents.

There is no statutory joint custody in Maryland. And no judge would willingly give sole custody or joint custody to an abusive or neglectful parent.

In the current sole-custody climate, there are often charges and counter-charges, and judges must determine which parent will be the “winner” in a custody battle.

If the commission can help utilize joint custody, mediation, parent education, collaborative law and expedited handling of custody complaints, while respecting children’s rights, it will have done a great service to the children of Maryland.

David L. Levy, Hyattsville

The writer is a member of Maryland’s Commission on Child Custody Decision Making and a co-director of the Children’s Rights Fund for Maryland.

Source: Making children the winners in custody cases – The Washington Post

In Maryland courts, parents’ rights supersede child safety

Regarding the Sept. 29 editorial “A child’s safety is paramount”:

Most people don’t know that a concerned parent can be treated with suspicion by Maryland authorities, even when gravely troubling behaviors appear in a child placed under the care of a sex offender. Even fewer know that in such a case the sex offender, not the child, has the advantage in court because of a widespread assumption that any parent is better than no parent.

As the editorial noted, a bill that would deny custody and unsupervised visitation to sex offenders in Maryland died this year before the House Judiciary Committee. However, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) signed a bill establishing a Commission on Child Custody Decision Making. Good news for children, right? Not so fast. A small percentage of legal separation and divorce cases goes to litigation, but a high percentage of those cases involves a history of domestic violence, child abuse or both. The advocates who pushed for the commission see joint parental custody as its main task. Such a predispostion puts a goal of shared parenting ahead of child safety, the goal held by current case law.

Maryland judges continue to order unsupervised access or joint custody despite histories of domestic violence, child abuse or neglect. If it is so difficult to protect a child from a convicted sex offender, what hope do children have when a parent is abusive or dangerous but has never been convicted?

Eileen King, Washington ~ The writer is executive director of Child Justice.

There’s this persistent myth in America that about half of all marriages end in divorce.

In fact, the figures are significantly lower, as new graphics by Nathan Yau of Flowing Data demonstrate.

Yau explains that this myth simply stems from bad math – dividing the divorce rate by the marriage rate in a given year. In 2014, there were 8.7 divorces and 17 marriages per 1,000 women in the United States, he says, citing figures from the American Community Survey. If you divide the first number by the second number, you get 51 percent.

The problem is that the people who are marrying each other in 2014 aren’t the same as the people who are divorcing each other in 2014. If you look at the data over a longer period of time, it becomes clear that the divorce rate is lower than half.

As Claire Cain Miller wrote at the Upshot, the divorce rate peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s and has been declining since then. In fact, if current marriage and divorce rate continues, only about one-third of American marriages will end in divorce, the Upshot’s Justin Wolfers has calculated.

But the rates are much higher for some groups than others, as Yau’s graphs show.

Here’s what the graph looks like for American men and women who have a high school education or less.

The graph shows the age of men and women along the horizontal axis and the percentage who have been divorced or married more than once on the vertical axis. These graphs are cumulative, so as you go from left to right they add in the people who have ever divorced or remarried at any age group, to reach the total percentage on the right hand side of the graph. As you can see, about 39 percent of men with a high school education or less divorce or remarry in their lifetimes, compared to 37 percent of women with a similar education.

And here’s what the graphic looks like for those with a bachelor’s degree. Perhaps predictably, the divorce and remarriage rates are lower, with roughly 29 percent of women and 28 percent of men with a bachelor’s degree getting divorced or remarried.

Yau also broke the divorce rates down by race. Here are the rates for whites:

The rates are slightly higher for blacks:

They are much lower Hispanics:

And lowest of all for Asians, with less than one-fifth of Asian-Americans getting divorced and remarried:

The highest rates of the bunch belong to Native Americans:

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