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Chair, Shared Parenting Council of Connecticut, Inc

Which is the better shared parenting law?

In 2018, Virginia passed a law requiring judges to consider shared parenting on a basis equal to sole or primary custody. This promises to change the current practice of awarding sole or primary custody in 85% of cases. Do you support that shared parenting should be an equal alternative to sole or primary custody?

In 2018, Kentucky passed a law requiring judges to start with a presumption of 50-50 shared parenting time, then apply the facts of the case from there. Do you support shared parenting as a starting point for negotiating custody schedules?

Which approach is better, Virginia’s or Kentucky’s?
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Kentucky Shared Parenting Law Reduces Conflict in Custody Cases

“What this law does is it mandates that when a case begins — a time-sharing case or custody case — that I start with what’s best for these children is a 50/50 time-sharing schedule with the parents. Then, I take the facts and apply them from there,” explained McCracken County Family Court Judge Deanna Henschel.

Republican state Rep. Jason Petrie of Elkton, one of the sponsors of the bill, said he hopes it will help reduce conflict.

“Parties are not fighting as much on that first hearing, given that there is a presumption that there is shared custody and equal parenting time,” Petrie said.

Conflict is reduced because the law eliminates the winner/loser mentality that is part of custody cases where one parent fights to become the custodial parent, relegating the other to a visitor with his or her children.

Source: https://www.wpsdlocal6.com/2018/05/01/new-kentucky-law-forces-joint-custody-default/ last accessed July 16, 2018

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2013 Task Force Strongly Endorses Shared Parenting- do you agree?

In 2013, a Task Force consisting of over 30 judges, lawyers, family court practitioners and researchers concluded that:

1.     “Promotion of shared parenting constitutes a public health issue that extends beyond a mere legal concern.”

2.     “Parents who collaborate in childrearing have a positive effect on their children’s development and well-being.”

3.     “Parents who engage in protracted and/or severe conflict that includes rejecting or undermining the other parent have a negative impact.”

Do you agree?

Agree that parents who collaborate have a positive effect?
Agree that parents who engage in conflict have a negative effect?
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Should Family Courts Presume that Both Parents are Fit?

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

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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