The coming weeks could prove pivotal for shared parenting bills in Missouri and Massachusetts.
Despite still facing opposition from some special interests groups, which unfortunately were able to strike down a bill in Florida, more and more states are acting in the best interests of children by giving them equal access to both children.
In a recent interview, Cordell & Cordell CEO Scott Trout pointed out that there is very little debate about what post-divorce arrangement is best for children.
“It’s about families,” he said. “… There are plenty of studies, and recent studies, that talk about two-parent involvement in kids. Those kids wind up so much better. They’re more successful in life than just having a disproportionate custody schedule with just one parent.”
Those kids wind up so much better. They’re more successful in life …
In Missouri, HB 1550 currently sits on Governor Jay Nixon’s desk after passing in the Senate unanimously and getting through the House by a staggering 154-2 margin. The statute has also received support in the editorial pages of newspapers across the state.
The bill would shift the starting point in custody disputes so that the presumption is that the child would be best off spending as close to equal time with each parent as possible while still also giving judges the discretion to order a different custody schedule should they deem it more appropriate.
Meanwhile in Massachusetts, H 4107 has yet to make it out of the House, but the amount of support it’s received indicates it should at least make it to the Senate. The bill recently received a huge boost by gaining an endorsement from the Boston Globe:
“Massachusetts child custody laws are outdated. The Child-Centered Family law bill H 4107 acknowledges a widely held belief that isn’t always reflected in court orders: Children benefit from spending significant time with both parents. The legislation would encourage family-court judges to grant parents shared custody, with a child spending at least one-third of the time with each parent. The law would affect only the small portion of divorcing couples who rely on the courts for a custody agreement after negotiations or mediation fails – but those cases often drag on for months or years, causing irreparable damage to all involved.”
Currently, both states use a sole custody model, with one parent receiving sole custody and the other cast in the visitor position. This setup lends itself to disputes and conflict between the two parents, which inevitably spills over to the children.
The bills are win-wins for everyone – minus special interest groups hoping to cash in on contentious custody battles that result in sky-high attorney fees.
It remains to be seen if the bills will pass into law. The National Parents Organization is encouraging supporters in each state to contact Governor Nixon and elected officials to urge passage and support of each bill.