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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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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Do you know where your kids are, but can’t see them?

A Hartford Courant article (October 6, 2015, p A1) quotes a parent as saying that this “is the worst possible experience a father and mother could have. Your children are alive, you know where they are, but you can’t see them.” This describes very accurately “splitting” or alienating behavior. Too often the state of Connecticut assists in splitting children from one or both parents.

Too often, a parent with some easily treated disability such as ADD is prevented from seeing their child. Massachusetts is moving to change court ordered alienation according to the Courant article:

http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-children-taken-from-couple-under-predictive-neglect-20151005-story.html

 

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Testimony Supports Less Need for Court Ordered Professionals

The SPC advocates amendments to Connecticut’s HB 5505 to reduce conflict by giving each parent an incentive to support the other parents. This implements CT’s 2005 law – other states (MA, MD and others) are implementing shared parenting. Here are the proposed amendments:

Purpose: establishing the presumption of behavior encouraging parental involvement

Sec. 4. Section 46b-56 of the general statutes is amended by adding subsection (j) as follows (Effective October 1, 2015):

(new) (j) In cases involving an existing Parental Responsibility Plan (PRP), or any existing custodial order, statutory factors (6) and (7) of Conn. Gen. Sats 46b-56(c ) shall determine the resolution of any dispute. A pattern of noncompliance with existing custodial orders, or with an existing PRP provides evidence of unwillingness to foster a good parent-child relationship (violation of factor 6) and/or manipulative or coercive behavior (factor 7). Such pattern of noncompliance will result in a finding in favor of the other  parent.

Note: the relevant factors:

(6) the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage such continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent as is appropriate, including compliance with any court orders;

(7) any manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents in an effort to involve the child in the parents’ dispute.

Rationale: to reduce litigation by establishing the primary role of behavior fostering a good relationship with the other parent.

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Testimony in Hartford supports presumed shared parenting – click for shared parenting plans

Over 50 people attended a hearing of Connecticut’s Custody Task Force at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Thursday, January 9, 2014.
Almost all spoke in favor of the presumption of shared parenting as a starting point. If shared parenting were presumed by the court, then parents would realize that they are wasting their time and money when they fight for control and time. Of course, shared parenting would be subject to review if there is substantial evidence of abuse or neglect,
The crowd enthusiastically supported many speakers who testified about excessive legal costs associated with custody issues. Several talked about spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal costs.
Would you like a model plan for shared parenting? It gives details of shared parenting time and decision making responsibility. Just leave a comment below specifying your interest.

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