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.”