Should Family Courts Presume that Both Parents are Fit?


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Child welfare cases and family court courts share an imperative to seriously investigate allegations of abuse and violence, so that children and other family members are not placed in danger

  • In child welfare, parents are presumed fit, and “only after a parent is found unfit may a court reach the second question of who may care for the child based on the best interests of the child” (Bei-Wen Lee, 2017).
  • However, in the case of custody disputes in family court, the argument is frequently made that shared parenting should not be a general presumption based on the possibility of abuse in some cases.

Source: Prof. Kari Adamsons, U of Connecticut, January 26, 2018

Should family courts presume that both parents are fit, just like child welfare cases?

 

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Parallel parenting can work in high conflict custody cases


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A distinguished task force of judges, lawyers, and family court professionals did a great job of defining shared parenting to include parallel parenting.

“even in circumstances where shared parenting may appear difficult, depending on the child’s age, maturity, and other circumstances,  parents still could have minimal communication and coordination and yet share the raising of their children in what is called “parallel parenting” (an arrangement in which parents agree to exchange important information about the child’s welfare, but otherwise permit each other to parent the child autonomously).”

Source: “CLOSING THE GAP: RESEARCH, POLICY, PRACTICE, AND SHARED PARENTING” by Marsha Kline Pruett and J. Herbie DiFonzo. (Family Court Review, Vol. 52, No 2, April 2014).

Should family courts insist on parallel parenting in high conflict cases, except where one parent is unfit?

 

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Symposium on Parenting Research and Family Court Practices

Aside

Legislative Office Building – Room 1C
300 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
Friday, January 26, 2018, 2pm

2:00 – 2:30 Introduction: Speaker: John Clapp
    Need to review and update information outlined in 2014 paper titled
    “Closing the Gap: Research, Policy, Practice, And Shared Parenting”
    by Marsha Kline Pruett and J. Herbie DiFonzo.
2:30 – 3:30 Presentation: Speaker: Prof. Kari Adamsons, Ph.D. -
Associate Professor in the Department of Human Development and
Family Studies at the University of Connecticut. 
    Research relevant to “gap” issues identified in 2014 paper including
    new research presented at the International Conference on Shared
    Parenting held on May 29-30, 2017, Boston, Massachusetts.
3:30 – 4:00 Questions and Discussion with Audience
    Moderator: John Clapp
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Family Court Professionals Endorse Shared Parenting

A three-day Task Force meeting of “family law experts” (i.e., legal experts, mental health practitioners, conflict resolution practitioners, educators, judges, court services administrators, and researchers) reached strong consensus on Shared Parenting.

“Consensus Point 1: Promotion of shared parenting constitutes a public health issue that extends beyond a mere legal concern. Parents who collaborate in childrearing have a positive effect on their children’s development and well-being. Parents who engage in protracted and/or severe conflict that includes rejecting or undermining the other parent have a negative impact. The potential for shared parenting is present for children regardless of the family structure in which they live, and it represents a key protective factor in (a) helping children adjust to separation and divorce and (b) establishing an ongoing healthy family environment in which to rear children and facilitate high-quality parenting. (p. 152)”

Source: “CLOSING THE GAP: RESEARCH, POLICY, PRACTICE, AND SHARED PARENTING” by Marsha Kline Pruett and J. Herbie DiFonzo. (Family Court Review, Vol. 52, No 2, April 2014).

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Does Shared Parenting affect early childhood development?

A renowned Cambridge University Professor, Dr. Michael Lamb, says that young children benefit by forming attachment to both parents, and other caring involved adults as well. Speaking at the International Conference on Shared Parenting 2017 in Boston Prof. Lamb said that a child’s attachments to caring adults develop in the first 7-8 months. He spoke on Tuesday, May 30. Prof. Lamb is widely credited with developing the science of early childhood attachment formation.

He said that young children who spend time, including overnights, with one caring attachment figure are not harmed by the separation from another parent.

Prof. Lamb summarized five studies of attachment formation in cases where parents live apart. He parsed the studies according to the selection of their sample and the validity of their outcome measurements. Giving greater weight to studies with better samples and stronger methods, he concluded that a child’s attachment to more than one adult produces better outcomes. He pointed out that this likely follows from the emotional support one parent can give the child when the other parent is experiencing difficulties. He called for more research on causal factors.

Bottom line: overnights with each parent in different homes help young children form strong attachments.

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Scientific Research Rejects the “Tender Years Doctrine”

What is the “Tender Years Doctrine?” This is the belief that very young children – infants, toddlers, and children up to four years of age – should spend all their overnights in one location.

  • It has been used to justify many court orders denying or restricting access between a fit parent and his or her children.
  • But it is not supported by a broad consensus of scientific researchers.
  • A definitive “Consensus Report,” published in a widely respected journal shows that the evidence supports overnights with both parents when the parents live separately.
  • At a scientific conference on Monday, May 29, 2017 the author of the Consensus Report, Dr Richard Warshak, told the story of an attempt by several prominent clinicians to suppress the Report.
    • They tried to prevent publication.
    • They asked the journal editors not to publish the names of the 110 scientists who support the Concensus Report.
    • They then resorted to calling the report “divisive.”
    • Not surprisingly, the clinicians trying to suppress the report profit from high conflict divorce cases.

In the dry language of science: “Sufficient evidence does not exist to support postponing the introduction of regular and frequent involvement, including overnights, of both parents with their babies and toddlers. The theoretical and practical considerations favoring overnights for most young children are more compelling than concerns that overnights might jeopardize children’s development.” (p. 46, Warshak, 2014).

Source: Dr. Richard Warshak, Clinical Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report.”  Psychology, Public Policy, and Law. 2014, Vol. 20, No. 1, 46–67. This journal ranks in the top 75 out of 252 psychology journals according to Scopus statistics on citation impact.

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Exchange Information with Shared Parenting Experts: International Conference in Boston, May 29-30

The National Parents Organization (NPO.org) is sponsoring a group of experts on shared parenting. Some highlights from the NPO website, http://npo-icsp2017.org/ :

Research suggests that fully half of troubled children and adolescents derive from conflicted, separated and divorced families. The faculty will delve into the relationship between different types of post-divorce parenting arrangements and children’s subjective and objective outcomes, their attachment to parental figures, and specific issues such as age and developmental level, high conflict, domestic violence, and parental alienation. The conference offers the rare opportunity to interact with leading legal and mental health scholars from around the world on this important topic. The program will include plenary sessions, panel discussions, question and answer sessions, and break-out workshops.

Given the high prevalence of conflicted, separated and divorced families, this conference will be of great benefit to all varieties of child and family practitioners and scholars, including any who deal with family policy, family law, psychology, child mental and physical health, alienation, domestic violence or family dynamics This is an unusual opportunity to learn from so many distinguished scholars from Australia to Europe to North America, any of whom would qualify as a keynote speaker, all at one conference. Information on continuing education can be found in the Program.

Email info@sharedparentinginc.org for a pdf of the full program.

Registration and housing information: http://npo-icsp2017.org/registrationhousing/

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Shared Parenting Conference May 29-30, Boston

This is an important conference, with a stellar international group of researchers on shared parenting. With this conference, shared parenting has gone mainstream, much as the civil rights and gay marriage movements did in another time.

Shared Parenting Research: A Watershed in Understanding Children’s Best Interest?

Dr. Richard Warshak is the author of the widely known “Consensus Report” of 2014. The conclusions of this comprehensive literature review of children’s outcomes as related to post-divorce parenting plans were signed by 110 eminent authorities from around the world.

The research of Profs Malin Bergström of Sweden and Patrick Parkinson of Australia reflects the fact that shared parenting has been very common in both countries for almost a decade, thus reducing the research problem of selection bias.

Sponsored by the NPO and by the International Council on Shared Parenting

I will attend. Let me know if you plan to attend also: john.m.clapp@gmail.com

Register at: http://npo-icsp2017.org/

 

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Rally at CT’s Legislative Office Building, Wednesday, Feb 22

Please join shared parenting supporters in our effort to pass legislation reforming the family courts.

Where: the Lobby of the LOB, Hartford Connecticut

When: 4:30pm, Wednesday February 22, 2017

Who: Rep Minnie Gonzalez and the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus.

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Support HB 6645: Shared Parenting is Good for Kids and Reduces Court Costs

The Connecticut Judiciary Committee is considering a bill establishing the presumption of shared parenting. The bill will encourage parents to stay focused on their children in custody disputes. Children can maintain good relationships with both parents if the courts operate with a strong presumption that equal access, time and decision making authority unless a parent is proven unfit. Court costs are reduced because parents seek mediation when they know that the court favors equal involvement.

Call the leaders of the Judiciary Committee telling them that you want this bill and related bills (HB6626 and HB6638) voted out of the Committee for hearings. This is a basic democratic principle. The public can’t be heard unless they hold hearings. Be sure to talk personally to their legislative aids and call Rep Joe Aresimowicz, Speaker of the House:

CT Judiciary Committee and House Speaker 2017
Speaker Joe Aresimowica D 860-240-8500, ask for Aide
Co-Chair Sen Doyle, Paul R. D 860-240-0475, Aide: David Seifel
Co-Chair  Sen. Kissel, John A. R (800) 842-1421, Aide: Kate McAvoy
Co-Chair Rep. Tong, William D (860) 240-8585, Aide: Adam Sciviano
Vice Chair Sen. Winfield, Gary A. D (860) 240-8585, ask for aide
Vice Chair Sen. McLachlan, Michael A. R (800) 842-1421, Aide: Amanda Zavagnin
Vice Chair Rep. Stafstrom, Steven D (860) 240-8585, ask for aide
Ranking Member Rep. Rebimbas, Rosa C. R (860) 240-8700, ask for aide

IMPORTANT: Send letters to each person, especially Democratic Leadership: Legislative Office Building, Hartford, CT 06106-1591 

For the full text of HB6645: https://www.cga.ct.gov/2017/TOB/h/2017HB-06645-R00-HB.htm

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