And, why is this important for GRANDparents?
National Parents Organization is enlisting the support of grandparents in this reform. Grandparents are well represented in the organization’s membership, and from National Parents Organization’s perspective, one of the greatest negative impacts the family courts currently have on children is the unfortunate and unnecessary limitations they place on children’s access to extended family and the critical, loving roles that Grandparents play in children’s lives.
National Parents Organization is pleased to announce that at least 17 state legislatures are currently considering bills that support shared parenting and parental equality in instances of divorce or separation.
National Parents Organization considers the national trend an appropriate response to the tremendous impact our nation’s family courts continue to have on the roughly 35% of American children whose parents have divorced or separated. Family courts routinely operate under a 1950s model that places parents on unequal child custody footing. However, recent comprehensive reviews of child development research show that children thrive with shared parenting following separation or divorce.
For instance, the American Psychological Association recently published a report by prominent University of Texas psychologist Richard Warshak, titled “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report,” which was signed by 110 child development experts and concludes “Shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.” In addition, federal statistics show the alarming impact that single parenting has on children (see “Single Parenting Versus Shared Parenting” below).
Still, parents seeking shared parenting after divorce or separation face an uphill battle.
“Despite what you might believe, shared parenting is not the norm in instances of divorce and separation. In fact, family courts award sole custody, usually to the mother, in over 80 percent of child custody cases,” said Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S., Founder and Chair of National Parents Organization – the group that recently published an inaugural Shared Parenting Report Card that issued each state’s child custody statutes a grade, A through F.
States working to overcome the persistence of the sole custody tradition by considering legislation that encourages shared parenting and parental equality include:
- New York
- South Carolina
SINGLE PARENTING VERSUS SHARED PARENTING
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Census Bureau and numerous researchers have reported alarming outcomes for the 35% of children who are raised by single parents. Yet, until now, this factor has been largely ignored in the conversation about child wellbeing.
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.
Whether the problem is emotional disturbances of children, drug use, alcohol use, teen pregnancy, poor performance in school, trouble with the law or running with gangs, being raised by a single parent is a powerful risk factor. For many of these outcomes, single parenting is a stronger risk factor than race or poverty. Conversely, children on average do much better on all these measures if they have shared parenting. Children ardently desire shared parenting in most cases and are happier with it.
For parents, shared parenting significantly increases child support compliance, diminishes parental conflict and domestic violence and allows both parents to pursue their careers, social lives and other interests without the burden of singlehandedly raising a child.
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
Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.
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.