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RESOURCES - SINGLE AND DIVORCING PARENTS

« Presumption of Joint Custody | Main | Custody Determinations Should Depend Upon the Particular Facts of a Case, Not a Presumption »

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Darrick

On December 12th 2006, the nine-member Family and Children Services Committee in the House of Representatives reported adversely on proposed legislation that would have allowed children to have substantial and continued contact with both fit parents.
The Shared Parenting House Bill 5267 will die in committee because Democratic State Representatives Dudley Spade , 57th District, Brenda Clack, Minority Vice-Chair, 34th District, LaMar Lemmons Jr., 2nd District, Gino Polidori, 15th District and Republican Barb Vander Veen, 89th District did not do their duty to our state's families because they failed to vote for the bill. On the other hand, many thanks for voting for children go to Republican State Representatives John Stahl, Committee Chair, 82nd District, Tom Pearce, Majority Vice-Chair, 73rd District, Jacob Hoogendyk, 61st District and Fulton Sheen, 88th District.
Many people - mostly concerned parents and citizens - attended public hearings on the bill to voice support; and all listened while those with a financial interest in seeing the bill fail (such as the Friend of the Court Association, the Michigan Bar Association, the Michigan Chapter of the National Organization of Women, lobbyists from domestic violence groups, and even government employees) all lobbied against the bill.
Those who supported the bill relied on a basic premise that children should have both parents frequently involved in their upbringing as much as possible even after a divorce. This seemed like a simple argument, seeing as how it closely resembles how in-tact families already currently operate.
However, the arguments against the bill obviously outweighed the importance of trying to maintain the right of a child to both parents. The opposition argued that some women and children may be harmed by allowing a close relationship with both parents during and after divorce. The opposition believes that presuming both parents equal unless proof otherwise is not a Michigan ideal. The opposition would have you believe that requiring proof of abuse is too high a standard for child custody therefore no child should have the right to both parents.
I question the true motives of the opposition, Federal welfare programs paid for by Social Security - like Foster Care and Adoption Assistance, and Child Support Enforcement - provide hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding to each state only when children are separated from one of their parents. Typically those that oppose shared parenting legislation are those who benefit financially from these programs.
70% of all owed support is never collected because it comes from low income fathers who typically never see their children. Over four billion dollars from Social Security, plus several billion dollars more in state taxes, will have been spent in 2006 alone for just the collection of child support across the country. An overwhelming majority of that money is spent on establishing orders and collecting support for the children of divorcing middle- and upper-class families whose fathers want to spend more time with their children but can not do to the current family court system.
Families in crisis legally do not have any other place to turn than to the state court system for help. But if state courts were to allow both parents to continue to take an equal role in the responsibility of raising their children after divorce, this would minimize the orders for child support left for the state to enforce - which would also mean that the state would lose billions in federal funding; and so would those who consistently oppose keeping both parents involved after divorce.
Very little common sense is needed to understand that sharing parental responsibilities doesn’t harm children – and it shouldn't take much more common sense to see how it would instead cause more harm to those who benefit directly from the funding received when children are torn away from a parent. These people do not take into account the overall social costs of denying children substantially equal time with both parents. You can help our society by letting the committee members as well as all of your politicians know that they need to support Shared Parenting and let's begin to heal our state by building stronger family ties when we respect both parents equally.

Darrick

Can we agree that the current system of evaluation is biased towards mothers due to the fact that the criteria does not properly account for fathering but instead values mothering? Can we agree that the state's evaluation system is already a cookie-cutter system with mothers gettings sole custody in the super majority of the cases and with the state recommending this 68% of the time? Also you are not telling the truth about HB 5267 when you say it is cookie-cutter because it does not assign joint physical custody in all cases it only requires it when two fit parents can not agree on another arraingment and both can maintain their child's school schedule. The current system has failed when it does use a cookie-cutter approach to custody assignment and when lawyers do pressure clients to settle under the bias assumptions. Since we know that in the high majority of cases children do better with substantially equal interaction with both parents and it is not happening now, what are you doing to correct this? What in the laws do you suggest be changed?

Jeanne M. Hannah

Darrick, I take exception to your comments (vast generalizations) that all of those who advocate for a "best interest" analysis of custody determinations rather than the application of a "cookie-cutter" approach (presumption of joint custody) are:

(1) Taking the truth and twisting it into a lie.
(2) That lawyers are against changing the law because they are into custody battles for the money
(3) That there is a bias the minute you walk into a lawyer's office.

I do support and acknowledge that children need a strong, positive relationship with both fit parents. I have long advocated for the right of children to have this. However, I do not believe that foregoing a factual analysis is the proper approach. Please see my response to your other comments, which I will re-publish as a post to this Blog so that all can read them. Jeanne Hannah

Darrick

I guess the best tactic is to take the truth and twist it into a lie. The truth is that studies havw shown that children do better when they have substantial time with both parents. When you go and take a few of high conflict cases and establish them as the norm for reasons to not have equal custody for all fit parents then you do children a diservice. The truth of this letter is that these people are all about growing and maintaining the welfare state and keeping the money flowing for the divorce industry. The case by case system of parental discrimination does not work becuase the truth is that the state does not properly evaluate custody and has an incentive to create non-custodial parents. There is bias from the moment you walk into a lawyers office that is why most cases are not decided by judges beacause the system is designed to pressure parents into not pursuing equal custody. Shame on you people.

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