In a recent Connecticut case, the judge ruled for extra father time based on the 16 factors defining best interests of the child. Importantly, the judge ruled that a major change in circumstances is NOT required in order to change parenting time. The judges decision says:
In modifying visitation, there is no requirement that the court find as a threshold matter that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. Szczerkowski v. Karmelowicz, 60 Conn. App. 429, 433, 759 A.2d 1050 (2000). “In making or modifying any order as provided in subsection (a) of [General Statutes Section 46b-56], the rights and responsibilities of both parents shall be considered and the court shall enter orders accordingly that serve the best interests of the child and provide the child with the active and consistent involvement of both parents commensurate with their abilities and interests.”
This case signals that judges are not willing to defer to the wishes of the primary residential parent when more time with the other parent is available. The attorney for the father went through each of the 16 factors to show that the change in parenting time was in the best interests of the child.
How would you vote on this proposed referendum for Connecticut?
“The Connecticut Legislature shall be instructed to vote in favor of legislation requiring that in all separation and divorce proceedings involving minor children, the court shall uphold the fundamental rights of both parents to the shared physical and legal custody of their children and the children’s right to maximize their time with each parent, so far as is practical, unless one parent is found unfit or the parents agree otherwise, subject to the requirements of existing child support and abuse prevention laws?”
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?
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
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).
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.
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.