Wednesday, June 9, 2010

In Massachusetts an affirmative nod for Shared Parenting

Editorial Worcester, MA News Telegram

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fairness for fathers
Bill makes sense for most divorces

Divorce is tough on all involved, especially the children. By smoothing the way toward sound custody agreements, House Bill 1400 offers help in the vast majority of cases: those involving two fit parents.

Advocates point out that the current practice in Massachusetts, in which the mother is the presumed custodial parent, encourages conflict. The Shared Parenting bill would require that courts handling separation and divorce agreements work from the presumption that both parents should share physical and legal custody.

That, says the advocacy group Fathers & Families, encourages cooperation and keeps the focus on what is best for children. Instead of a father having to fight for time with the children he loves, the legal system would assume that he merits equal time, and spend its time working out the details and practicalities of a given case. Shared parenting needn’t be a rigid 50-50 split; the mere assumption that both parents deserve ample time eases tensions, and the eventual agreement arrived at depends on a host of factors.

There was a time when it was generally reasonable for the mother to be awarded custody of the children almost automatically. That time is gone. Family dynamics and gender roles have changed. Just as women have proved themselves in the workplace, men have come into their own as nurturers at home, often very closely involved in their children’s upbringing.

The bill, it must be emphasized, is for families in which both parents are fit and no other problem gets in the way, such as parents living far apart. Judges would depart from the shared-parenting starting point whenever the best interests of the child so dictated, giving written reasons.

This simple bill, currently before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, offers an enormous and welcome change in how families would navigate marriage dissolution. Once this sad, private decision had been made, the system would help the parents find the way forward that puts the children on the best possible footing. Afterward, other benefits would accrue: children doing better in school, paternal grandparents enjoying access, less fighting, better child support compliance.

In short, this bill offers respect and assistance to both partners who are parting ways, freeing up time and attention for the young ones affected — who want, and who need, both parents.

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The work of Fathers 4 Justice and the Pain of Fathers ~ Activism in the UK

Equal and Shared Parenting ~ The Movie