Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Massachusetts shared parenting bill

Massachusetts is considering a shared parenting bill, but the Boston Globe opposes it:
No one can argue against the goal of giving fathers a large presence in their children’s lives. The question is how to ensure that, when unmarried or divorcing parents cannot agree on child-custody arrangements, men get a fair hearing in family court. Fathers’ rights advocates in Massachusetts argue that custody orders generally favor mothers and are pinning their hopes on House Bill 1400, which promotes the concept of “shared parenting.’’ But the bill, now before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, is too broad an approach to a challenging issue that demands nuanced, case-by-case decisions based on the best interests of the child.

House Bill 1400 would create a legal presumption for joint custody in situations where there is no evidence of child abuse or neglect. ...

The “shared parenting’’ bill would only affect a small portion of broken families: those in which parents are unable to reach a settlement on their own. Those cases, marked by acrimony and poor communication, seem the ones that would benefit most from a judge’s insight — not to mention a judge’s ability to tailor arrangements to children’s age, location, and particular needs.
Robert Franklin explains the fallacy of this argument:
That statement demonstrates a remarkable ignorance of how settlements in legal matter occur. Settlements, or indeed their lack, don't occur in a vacuum. Settlements are made or not made in the context - and on the basis of - what the law is. What the law is tells litigants who's likely to prevail in case of a trial. Parties then make their decisions about whether or not to settle based on the facts of the case and what they know the law to be. Simple.

A presumption of equally shared parenting would change the law. It would therefore change people's behavior regarding settlements. The presumption would almost certainly reduce litigation and increase the number of settled cases. Fathers would no longer need to battle for custody, or for that smidgen more of visitation than the standard practice. Mothers would know from the outset that, unless they could show abuse, neglect, violence or something equally bad on the dad's part, they'd best not fight and just let equal parenting take its course.
Franklin is correct. The Globe's argument is nuts. Let me give an analogy. Suppose the law required banks to give 60 days notice for a foreclosure. Would the Globe oppose such a law because foreclosure occur in a small portion of cases where there is acrimony and where the parties would benefit from a judge's insight? No, it seems obvious that a more vague foreclosure law would only increase the acrimony and uncertainty.

Just visit your local family court and tell me whether you see any "nuanced, case-by-case decisions based on the best interests of the child." I have yet to see one case that benefited from that so-called judge's insight.


Anonymous said...

Boston globe alwasy favors the corrupt status quo. It is owned by the Sulzberger's (NYT).

NYT favors corruption as well.

Anonymous said...

I have had a horrendous experience in Probate court. My ex is physically, emotional and verbally abusive to my four children. Yet after punching my daughter and leaving a bruise the Judge denied my motion for supervised visitation. He is a fathers' rights advocate who strongly supports shared parenting yet has harmed them in so many ways. I think any blanket legislation that doesn't look at the whole situation is doomed to failure. I was appalled that one comment was in favor of Judges and Lawyers being shot. As a parent and a role model comments like that only elicit anger and hatred and serve no purpose and quite honestly are very immature and thoughtless. I have walked out of court many times in tears because the best interest of the children are not at the heart of the decision making process. I was also surprised by the comment in the article "That's when it really hits home, when you realize your daughter really isn't yours anymore." Children are not property they are people ,individuals who need to be treated with respect and love, child support is meant to provide them a life that is not at poverty level, a life similar to what they had prior to the divorce. I think if Parents both mothers and fathers would stop treating the children as "property" and actually thought of the life long repercussions they would act more maturely. I know my ex is constantly in the public eye ranting about how unfair the judicial system is. I wish he would stop and think about how unfair it is to grow up being sworn at, hit, belittled, threatened, punched, and slapped by someone who is supposed to protect and cherish you.

Anonymous said...

My recent experience in the Hampshire County Court was horrendous. After I divorced my former spouse moved the kids in with her lover. I complained but the court allowed it. Furthermore, the judge said that mid week visitation was too confusing for children, so everyother weekend was ordered. At the time I lived 5 miles away from them. Now I live around my family in RI and close to
work in Mass. In March, my ex filed an accusation of mental abuse of the kids and for more support. It cost me $13780.00 between my own defense and the GAL that was assigned. The finding was heavily in my favor and they made me pay every dime. They increased support as well by 40%. I was told that I was responsible for my own fees as it was my choice to obtain counsel and the GAL was for my defense so I was responsible. Regardless the judge proceded to take away most of my summer time with the kids, stating that if I had to work while they were with me sometimes, it was not proper for them to be with me. I was not aware that people who work Mon-fri were not allowed to have kids at the same time. If that's the case a lot of us are in trouble. It didnt even matter if they would visit a day or two out of 14 with their grandmother or uncles or aunts. Absolutely 180 degrees of what the GAL reccommended, which was an INCREASE in parenting time. I should mention that ALL of the kids family is here in RI and they have none in Western Mass. I don't know how someone even thinks of that senario. So for all of you Massachusetts residents, this is ABSOLUTLEY a necessary measure. It wouldn't be if the courts did the job right.