The National Parents Organization thanks The Washington Post for shining a light on efforts to move shared parenting from the exception to the norm following divorce and separation, and encourages lawmakers throughout the nation to support the trend.
The Post’s Dec. 12 front page article, headlined “More than 20 states in 2017 considered laws to promote shared custody of children after divorce,” revealed about half our nation’s state legislatures this year have considered bills supportive of shared parenting, rather than the sole custody status quo. The Post included a map showing the 25 states that have considered proposals. A handful of states already have laws supportive of shared parenting.
“Many of the legislative gains recently have been propelled by the National Parents Organization, a group with roots in the fathers’ rights movement but now a broadened focus on children’s rights and parental equality,” the article said.
National Parents Organization advocates for shared parenting – where children whose parents have separated or divorced spend as close to equal time with each parent as possible –– inspired by the strong scientific evidence showing children do best with shared parenting when their parents divorce or separate.
“A meta-analysis of research on the effects of shared parenting on children in 15 countries also showed benefits across a range of emotional, behavioral and physical health measures,” The Post reported.
Additionally, the story featured Christian and Kristen Paasch, who lead National Parents Organization in Virginia.
“The way the system is set up now, two parents enter the courtroom. When they leave, one is a parent, and the other is a visitor,” Christian Paasch told The Post.
The article continued: “A presumption of shared parenting would replace the ‘winner takes all’ approach currently embedded in the law, he said, and replace it with a new message: ‘You will both still be parents, and you both matter to your children.’”
In light of the article, National Parents Organization’s Founder and Board Chair, Ned Holstein, MD, said, “We’ve long known that children desperately need and want significant time with both parents, especially following divorce. Now, as the Post highlighted, almost half our states are considering legislation based on the ample research showing that kids with shared parenting have better grades in school, less substance abuse, better health, less stress, less truancy and delinquency, and are happier. It’s time for every state to enact shared parenting for fit parents who have not committed domestic violence. This would cost the taxpayer nothing, just a simple change in the law that mirrors the modern convergence of gender roles in parenting.”
RECENT RESEARCH: SHARED PARENTING VERSUS SINGLE PARENTING
Shared Parenting Data
- In September 2017, Acta Paediatrica, a peer-reviewed medical journal in the field of pediatrics, published a paper by Swedish Malin Bergstrom of the Karolinska Institute titled “Preschool children living in joint physical custody arrangements show less psychological symptoms than those living mostly or only with one parent” – it concluded the mental health of children ages three to five with shared parenting is better on average than the mental health of those in the care of a single parent.
- The Journal of the American Psychological Association published a paper titled “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report” in 2014, and the conclusions were endorsed by 110 eminent authorities around the world. Authored by Dr. Richard Warshak at the University of Texas, the paper concluded, “… shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.”
- In 2016, Dr. Warshak wrote, “Two years after its publication, the conclusions and recommendations of the Warshak consensus report remain supported by science.” He also wrote, “The paper has been translated into at least eighteen languages and has informed legislative deliberations throughout the U.S. and parliamentary deliberations in several countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, Finland, Romania, Croatia, and Sweden. Two years after its publication, the consensus report continues to be one of the most downloaded papers from the journal’s website.” He added, “The list of endorsers and their stature and accomplishments reflect the field’s general acceptance of the consensus report’s findings as rooted in settled science from more than four decades of research directly relevant to this topic, including seminal studies by many of the endorsers.”
- The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health published a 150,000-person study titled “Fifty moves a year: Is there an association between joint physical custody and psychosomatic problems in children?” in May 2015 that concluded shared parenting after divorce or separation is in the best interest of children’s health because the arrangement lowers their stress levels.
- The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) published the recommendations of 32 family law experts in 2014, and the group concluded, “Children’s best interests are furthered by parenting plans that provide for continuing and shared parenting relationships that are safe, secure, and developmentally responsive and that also avoid a template calling for a specific division of time imposed on all families.”
- In December, 2016, The American Psychological Association published research by William V. Fabricius of Arizona State University in the journal Psychology, Public Policy and Law entitled, “Should Infants and Toddlers Have Frequent Overnight Parenting Time With Fathers? The Policy Debate and New Data.” Prof Fabricius’ findings provide “… strong support for policies to encourage frequent overnight parenting time [up to and including 50/50 overnights –Ed] for infants and toddlers [even younger than one year –Ed], because the benefits [for children-Ed] associated with overnights also held for parents who initially agreed about overnights as well as for those who disagreed and had the overnight parenting plan imposed over 1 parent’s objections.” Fabricius shared details on his findings during the International Conference on Shared Parenting 2017, a May 29-30, 2017 event in Boston, Massachusetts hosted by National Parents Organization and the International Council on Shared Parenting.
Single Parenting Data
According to federal statistics from sources including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Census Bureau, children raised by single parents account for:
- 63% of teen suicides;
- 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions;
- 71% of high school drop-outs;
- 75% of children in chemical abuse centers;
- 85% of those in prison;
- 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders; and
- 90% of homeless and runaway children.
Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.
A regular contributor to local and national media, Dr. Holstein is Founder and Chair of the Board of National Parents Organization. Dr. Holstein was appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts to the Massachusetts Working Group on Child-Centered Family Law, and he was previously appointed by a Massachusetts Chief Justice to a task force charged with reviewing and revising the state’s child support guidelines.
A graduate of Harvard College, Holstein also earned a Master’s degree in psychology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His medical degree is from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he later served on the faculty as a teacher and researcher.
ABOUT NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
National Parents Organization, a charitable and educational 501 (c)(3) organization, seeks better lives for children through family law reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers after divorce or separation. The organization is focused on promoting shared parenting and preserving a child’s strong bond with both parents, which is critically important to their emotional, mental, and physical health. In 2014, National Parents Organization released the Shared Parenting Report Card, the first study to rank the states on child custody laws. Visit the National Parents Organization website at www.nationalparentsorganization.org