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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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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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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Florida strongly encourages shared parenting

  • “There is no such term as “custody” in the Florida Statutes nor is there a primary or secondary residential parent designation in the Florida Statutes. In Florida, both parents have “time-sharing” with their children. The court will order a time-sharing schedule that is in the best interests of the children
  • Terms that reflect the type of time-sharing schedule include “majority time-sharing” and “equal time-sharing.”
  • If both parents enjoy equal time-sharing, then child support is still calculated using the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet, which is dependent on the parties income, percentage time-sharing (only overnights are used for purposes of establishing the percentages), health insurance, and costs of daycare and uncovered medical expenses. As the payor’s percentage of time-sharing increases, the less he or she will pay in child support generally.
  • Historically, courts have favored mothers with regard to caring for children particularly with children in their “tender years.” However, Florida courts have abolished the tender years doctrine and the statutes do not favor one parent over the other based on gender.”

Source: Cordell & Cordell Law Firm.  http://cordellcordell.com/resources/florida/florida-child-custody-questions/

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Dividends from Involved Dads – Benefits from Shared Parenting of Babies

The Economist, a highly respected weekly news magazine reports that “Chaildren whose fathers take even short spells of paternity leave do better (May 16th, 2015, p 54).” The Economist article covers parental leave policies – and the trend towards parental leave for both parents – in 185 countries. Nearly half these countries now offer new fathers short periods at home. Unfortunately, the US has one of the least accommodating policies, covering only a subset of women, and no men, with unpaid leave.

Why encourage both parents to spend time with their new baby? One reason is that women will then face less discrimination in hiring, since they will be able to return to work more quickly after giving birth. Their skills will not suffer from extended absence from the workforce, so their lifetime earnings improve. Secondly, dads who took time off are more likely to pitch in on basic child care like changing diapers, feeding, bathing and playing.

The patterns established early in the baby’s life persisted into childhood. The data suggest that school children with two involved parents benefit with better grades, lower truancy and fewer behavioral problems.

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When does child support interfere with good parenting? When is it excessive?

Kimberly Seals Allers writes in the New York Times about “redefining what child support really is, for our family .”  She recently petitioned the Family Court in Queens to forgive over $38,000 that her ex-husband owed in child support.

Ms. Allers writes: “My ex-husband has always given our children his time, whether he had money or not. He currently makes payments to me directly when he is able. But his arrears have accumulated during years when he was unemployed or underemployed and either paid less than the monthly payment ($600) granted when we divorced, or nothing at all. So when our children were young, after our separation and early in our divorce, I negotiated new currencies such as additional time when I needed child care, meal preparation, haircuts and even helping with home repairs, instead of acting as if a cash payment was all he had to offer our children. The look on their faces when he came to pick them up was more than worth it.”

The full article is at: http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/parenting/2015/04/19/forgiving-38750-in-child-support-for-my-kids-sake/?_r=0&referrer

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Testify for Shared Parenting, GAL Reform and Alimony Reform on Monday, March 31

When: Monday March 31, preferably near 8am, but any time after that is OK.
Between 8am and 10am you sign up for a lottery number. After that you sign at the bottom of the list of speakers. Expect to compete with many people testifying.
Where: Legislative Office Building, Second floor. Driving directions:
http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/DrivingDirections.asp. If the Parking Garage is full (which is likely), there’s a pay garage in a commercial building on Oak Street opposite the entrance to the Appellate Clerk’s office.
What: Bill 6685 – shared parenting; RB 494 -GAL reform; Bill 5524, alimony reform

If you can’t attend, submit written testimony by email: JUD.Testimony@cga.ct.gov . You can even submit written testimony through Tuesday, April 1.

Please testify to any of the following points that agree with your thinking and experience:
• Most of the problems – alienation, excessive cost, and experts trying to substitute their opinions for the parents’ – could be solved if judges, family relations officers and others simply asked repeatedly: which parent is more likely to provide “frequent, meaningful, and continuing contact” between the child and the other parent?
o The courts need to clearly send the message that each parent must promote frequent and meaningful contact with the other parent.
o Of course there are exceptions in cases with proven violence, neglect or abuse.
• Guardian Ad Litems (GALs) need to be carefully supervised as specified in RB494. Here is a link to the full text: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2014/TOB/S/2014SB-00494-R00-SB.htm
o RB 494 will be hotly contested by professionals who are making lots of money on the existing family court system.
o The Shared Parenting Council supports RB 494 as a step in the direction of much needed reform.
• Modify RB 494 to require GALs to promoting active involvement by both parents.
• Alimony requires guidelines for judges to follow. This will ensure consistency across courts in Connecticut.
• Absent abuse, neglect and domestic violence, children have the constitutional right to have both parents equally involved in their lives.
• There’s no oversight or accountability of the court appointed professionals such as GALs, AMCs, Psychological Evaluators. This opens the door to a few who want to exploit the system. Only in very rare circumstances should a judge appoint a GAL or any other individual to a family absent proven abuse and neglect.
• Absent findings of abuse or neglect the judge should be required to tell counsel and parties that we have a presumption of shared equal parenting time. If the parents disagree about the amount of time, then the burden of proof is on the parent who is not agreeing to up to 50% time for the other parent.
• The judge will enforce the laws and then sanction parents who lie to the court or mislead the court in an attempt to seek more parenting time. Sanctions need to be monetary and/or in the form of community service.
• Parental alienation: a Judge needs to be alerted in an emergency hearing that a child about potential alienation. DCF will be called in. Hopefully this will be a detergent for any alienator in their early stages of abuse.

We had a tremendous turnout in January, and as a result the Judicial Branch is beginning the process of reform.
Don’t miss this opportunity to participate in these major changes in Connecticut law.

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Take care of yourself during divorce. What works for you?

Many individuals become interested in shared parenting either during or after a difficult seperation. During this period all the individuals are going through a possible range of emotions. The fear, anger, and anxiety can be overwhelming. However, it is typically during this period that we have the greatest need to make decisions that will affect our lives, our childrens’ lives, and all of our relationships. A first instinct can to be protect those that are most vulnerable. But we may forget we are vulnerable as well. Having to make decisions during this delicate period is not ideal and at best extremely difficult. Developing a well defined and balanced parenting agreement can help avoid future conflicts, minimizing exacerbation of  potential acrimony. In order for shared parening to be successful we need to know what works. This post is meant to provide a forum for people  to share parts of their agreements that have helped to ensure or foster shared parenting.We have all learned from the process. This is an opportunity to share successes or things that you wish you had more clearly communicated to foster mutual involvement of both parents. Resources are provided by professionals such as those at Advanced Behavioral Care in New Britain, CT.

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