Why Is It So Hard To Pass Shared Parenting Legislation?

shared parenting Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the shared parenting movement is that despite such overwhelming support, progress continues to inch forward in tiny increments.

That isn’t to say things aren’t moving in the right direction. Twenty states considered shared parenting laws in 2015. More states are already joining the fold in 2016.

Still, actually passing legislation often proves to be extremely difficult.

The National Parents Organization recently noted that in three separate states – Massachusetts, Florida and Nebraska – anti-shared parenting advocates have thwarted bills even after helping write the bills.

Molly Olson and Terry Brennan, who are co-founders of the Leading Women for Shared Parenting, recently weighed in on this conundrum in an op-ed for the Sun Sentinal.

Olson and Brennan place the shared parenting debate in context with current Presidential politics. They point out that anti-establishment figures from the right and the left have surged due to the belief that the status quo in Washington gives no credence to the will of the people.

They then compare that to the forces opposing shared parenting. Seventy percent of the public supports shared parenting and mountains of social science research shows how having access to both parents following divorce is the best arrangement for families.

It is becoming increasingly clear that any argument against shared parenting is not based on empirical data. Logic would dictate that it should be painless to pass laws that grant children more equal access to each parent following a divorce, but as Olson and Brennan write, the status quo holds strong.

“So if shared parenting is best for children and supported by 70 percent of women, men, liberals and conservatives, it should be the law of the land, right? Wrong. Enter ‘the establishment,’ stage right.”

A handful of feminist organizations have halted shared parenting progress even though only 18 percent of Americans identify as feminist and even many feminists plainly admit fathers face sexist discrimination in family courts.

However, the bigger factor seems to be that bar associations consistently push back against shared parenting.

“Bar associations promote policies for their attorney membership, and they don’t like shared parenting. Why? In voicing  her support, Catherine Real, an attorney with 38 years’ experience explained, ‘This will reduce the amount of litigation because of the presumption fathers are going to have equal timesharing with their children.’ Less litigation means less money for lawyers, so Bar associations will go to any length to stop shared parenting.”

In electoral politics, there is a rebellion against traditional mainstream candidates because so many feel their interests have been ignored. Politicians bowing to special interest groups working against shared parenting progress might soon face similar backlash.

“I’ve argued before that the next logical step for shared parenting forces is political,” National Parents Organization Board of Director Robert Franklin wrote. “Olson and Brennan suggest much the same. Political elites ignore the will of the people at their peril. That’s what democracy is all about.”

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16 comments on “Why Is It So Hard To Pass Shared Parenting Legislation?

    Why does the female judge who has no children believe unproven lies against the father while disregarding proven facts against the mother? And gives the child’s custody to the mother instead of shared custody when the father too good care of the children while together and wants to help raise the child! The children are traumatized and cry when they leave their dad!! Where is the child’s best interest?

    Well written Marie my son and daughter mean the world to me and it has almost been the death of me not having them around I pray for this law to be passed so my kids can be happy and see all of their family.

    I support shared parenting however, as in our case, the judge needs to look at all evidence and make decisions based on the evidence, not on personal beliefs. Giving shared custody to a severely mentally ill parent who is dangerously psychotic/delusional and has tried killing herself multiple times as well has having been baker acted multiple times has resulted in the children being turned over to their abuser and putting the crazy parent in charge. This parent has physically attacked all family members including the children and done things that put them at risk for injury and death. Unfortunately the judge saw the word “mother” and was instantly transported to a Disney movie where birds are singing and butterflies are floating around. Sometimes it IS in the best interest of the child to have supervised visitation instead of turning the children over to the crazy parent.

    I whole-heartedly agree on nearly everything and give high-fives all around for the work you do.
    I take a small issue with one point:

    “…Bar associations promote policies for their attorney membership, and they don’t like shared parenting. Why? In voicing her support, Catherine Real, an attorney with 38 years’ experience explained, ‘This will reduce the amount of litigation because of the presumption fathers are going to have equal timesharing with their children.’ Less litigation means less money for lawyers, so Bar associations will go to any length to stop shared parenting.” …”

    I have ZERO love for attorneys, but in my opinion and observation (and I’ve been around some influential judges and attorneys who were behind the blocks), lawyers are not this calculating. The root of the problem lies with Feminist judges and lawyers being stuck in 80’s thinking afraid to alienate Feminists. That’s a dangerous move politically.

    The bad thing is the bar associations are lobbying against the one thing court systems and attorney preach to their clients “The best interest of the child”. When in reality it not about the children but what money they can make off their clients. The attorneys do NOT have to worry about these children after the divorce is final or the long term effect on these children. LET US LOOK A WHAT THESES ATTORNEYS AND THEIR BAR ASSOCIATIONS ARE DOING TO OUR CHILDREN! WE SHOULD START TURNING IT AROUND ON THEM AND TAKING THE FIGHT TO THEM. WE SHOULD LET THEM KNOW THAT PARENTS HAVE RIGHTS AND WE WANT SHARED PARENTING

    What a wonder summation of the idiocy of not enacting shared parenting arrangements for the overwhelming majority of separating parents.
    It’s all about the solicitors pie! Pathetic and so damaging for children.

    The overwhelming majority of separating parents don’t use a judge for their parenting plan. Only 5-10% of them think they need a judge’s decision because they can’t agree on one.

    Why? Because none of the leaders or the organizations fighting for it understand anything about politics. They haven’t learned to use the same tactics as their enemies or of successful movements in the past and try to build a mass movement. None of these groups has the membership numbers to show the legislators that shared parenting IS the will of the people.

    Actually, I understand a great deal about politics. That’s why I’ve argued for years that the shared parenting movement needs to enter the political fray. Elected officials will much more readily see the rightness of our cause when they fear what we can do on election day.

    In many if not most divorces, revenge is a strong motivator and the courts enable it against the father. In Missouri a father can be required to pay for college. The mother can poison the relationship with the father with now risk to the children.
    The law should be that a father can stop any financial support for the child at emancipation age (or younger) if the children don’t embrace the father. If the mother really cared, it would be in her interest to promote a relationship with the father.

    While I like this approach, an even bigger problem is the bureaucracy and its rules that seek to make everything “fair”. It is entrenched and that means that ideas are entrenched, especially in awarding mothers primary custody. If only we can find ways where the system can judge each case on its merits. Are both parents stable? Are there mental health and substance abuse issues? A weakness in shared parenting is that this becomes the hard and fast template that some have to now fight.

    I only have two friends who have shared parenting and police are often involved in both. In one, the woman is a narcissist, in the other, the man is…not right. But no matter what changes, this has always been a fight. A majority of those going before a judge have at least one crazy person per couple, because given the stats of 90-95% of parents being able to come up with an agreement without a judge, and given the cluster B population of 4-10% of the population, you bet those in front of the judge are going to be the ones with “issues.” The biggest problem there is that psych evals are ordered, and then the judge doesn’t know what to do with them. They really don’t understand the implications of giving shared custody to someone with proven psych issues.

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