For sake of kids, pass law presuming joint custody By BRYAN IEHL and STEPHEN BASKERVILLE
SPECIAL TO THE REGISTER
March 20, 2007
“We have too many children in poverty in this country,” says Illinois Sen. Barack Obama on the presidential campaign trail. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton recently kicked off her own campaign by surrounding herself with her trademark visual: children. When Nancy Pelosi took over as speaker of the House, she did the same.
What children are for the Democrats, the family is for Republicans. Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas has perhaps the foremost claim to be the “family values” candidate. But so far Brownback’s idea of preserving the family appears limited to opposing same-sex marriage, hardly a stance to set him apart from the Republican herd.
There is nothing new about politicians kissing babies, but politicizing children is a newer development. Iowa lawmakers have proposed a healthier alternative: The Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved Senate File 507, which would place into law the presumption of shared parenting in the event of divorce or separation.
This would result in more children having the love and care of both parents in their lives, regardless of their marital status. It would cost taxpayers nothing and would save billions that governments now spend on subsequent social ills.
Children and families have figured prominently in every election since the early 1990s, for good reason: The decline of the family and the poverty of children continue unabated. The National Center for Health Statistics recently reported that, despite 10 years of welfare reform, out-of-wedlock births are at a record high. A recent survey, The Changing Shape of the American Family, found that “Nearly nine in ten (88%) of U.S. adults say divorce has a negative impact on maintaining a stable American family life.” And a study just released by UNICEF ranked the United States second-worst among the 21 wealthiest countries in the world on their children’s well being. The ranking cited divorce and the number of children being raised in single-parent households.
Some 24 million children in the United States live without one of their biological parents. Virtually every social pathology of our time – from violent crime to substance abuse to truancy – correlates more strongly to fatherless homes than to any other single factor, surpassing poverty and race. According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, “Children who live absent their biological fathers are, on average, at least two to three times more likely to be poor, to use drugs, to experience educational, health, emotional, and behavioral problems, to be victims of child abuse, and to engage in criminal behavior than those who live with their married, biological (or adoptive) parents.”
The solutions offered from Washington by both Republican and Democratic administrations have been to spend more money on questionable programs to “promote fatherhood” and “healthy marriage.” States, meanwhile, are devising less costly and more effective alternatives. With Senate File 507, Iowa would be at the forefront.
By placing more legal weight on the side of joint physical care, the ugly custody battles that now fill the newspapers and talk shows would be greatly reduced. The adversarial litigation approach, with its winner-take-all mentality of resolving family disputes, inflames the conflict and turns children into weapons. A rebuttable presumption of shared parenting would de-escalate the conflict and be a win-win for parents, children, taxpayers and society.
The vast majority of Americans favor such an approach. In Massachusetts, 85 percent of voters approved a non-binding shared-parenting referendum in 2004. Similar measures are being debated in Michigan, West Virginia, Texas, New Hampshire, Georgia and elsewhere.
Senate File 507 is a common-sense measure supported by both parties in committee. It should be allowed full debate and a vote in both houses of the Legislature.
STEPHEN BASKERVILLE is president of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children and author of “Taken Into Custody: The War against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family.” BRYAN IEHL is founder and president of IowaFathers.com.
|Presumption of shared parenting||Posted by: alphacat
on Tue Mar 20, 2007 6:03 pm
|It is children that have a custodial parent and a “visiting” parent that must live out of a suitcase, not children that have equal access to the homes of both parents. The children must pack and unpack their belongings to “visit” the non-custodial parent for the (typically) 4 exchanges for overnights that occur each month in the case of custodial and non-custodial parents.
Instead, if the children have equal access to both parents’ homes, they will have clothes, toiletries, crayons, books, etc. at the home of each parent and no suitcase is needed.
|Applaud – well deserved||Posted by: Tom123
on Tue Mar 20, 2007 4:31 pm
|Agreed, I also applaud the Des Moines Register for printing Baskerville and Iehl’s article supporting Joint Custody. I also applaud Iowa for moving this excellent and badly needed piece of legislature into the senate. Bravo! This has the potential of a great step for Children, not only of Iowa, but of the U.S. and perhaps beyond. Consider the following:
1.) States with presumption of joint custody have much lower litigation costs – by the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is not only a benefit to the parents but also to the children – think about that for a moment in long term constructs
2.) These States also have the lowest levels of re-litigation – less stress on all parties involved and again lower costs.
3.) A presumption of Joint Custody provides far less motivation for any single parent to play games with the court system or to use the children as leverage to get what the parent wants.
4.) Such a presumption, despite many foolish claims, usually reduces conflicts between the parties.
5.) Such a presumption reduces or fully eliminates “Frazzled Mom Syndrome” whereby the Mom has the kids about 90% of the time and also works and has no recharge time.
6.) Such a presumption eliminates the motivation to use custody as a means to getting fat child support checks (which may or may not be used on the children).
7.) Such a presumption reduces or eliminates the possibility of one parent “poisoning” the children against their other parent.
8.) Such a presumption does not make a young child question why his father is returning him to his Mom after only a 3-hour visit on Wednesday – whereby the child will likely and incorrectly conclude that Dad doesn’t want to see him anymore. How does the Dad explain to the child that he does want to see him more but the courts ordered him to return him to his Mom after 3-hours.
The list goes on and on. We Need Shared Parenting – Kids Need Shared Parenting – This Country Needs Shared Parenting – and We All Need it Now
|All men are not fools||Posted by: Tar_Baby_Tony
on Tue Mar 20, 2007 2:22 pm
|I applaud the Des Moines Register for printing Baskerville and Iehlâ€™s article supporting Joint Custody. Most media ignore or distort the War on Marriage in America. The marriage rate and fertility rate in America is the lowest itâ€™s been in history. All men are not fools, we may not read about the cultural civil war in most newspapers but we see enough of our buddies ending up as road kills in Divorce Court. The most common court procedure in this country is divorce. Judges rule against dads a disproportionate amount of times. Therefore many men simply opt out of marriage and avoid the idea of having kids like the plague. Senator McCain used the phrase â€œTar Babyâ€ as he dodged my question about protecting deployed soldiers parental custody rights but I am not a â€œTar Babyâ€. He apologized to the media recognizing that such language is inappropriate. The American slur is remote to me because I was actually raised in Europe. My father is part African-American and my mother is Austrian. Austria and most of Europe are seeing the full effects of depopulation and collapsing pensions and vanishing work forces. I am acutely aware of the effects of the under replacement fertility rateâ€™s effect on the demographics of countries in Europe. America is just now starting to feel the effects of the Marriage Boycott. Encouraging marriage and fertility is foolish without concurrent custody rights protections. Along with Baskerville and Iehl, I am impressed by Iowaâ€™s Senate File 507 for Joint Custody. Hopefully Iowaâ€™s astute effort at true equality in a parenting law is not too little too late.|
|Living out of Suit cases – why’s that||Posted by: Tom123
on Tue Mar 20, 2007 2:00 pm
|I’d like to comment on the post here which sarcastically questions if anyone has done a study on the effects of a child living out of a suitcase in joint custody situations.
First off, there is no reason that a suitcase should be involved – in the huge majority of cases where both parents are loving parents – the child should and likely would have a full set of his needs at both parents. So the items to tote back and forth are reduced to a knapsack.
Secondly, the studies are very conclusive on the fact that the administrative concerns related to a child living in 2 households are negligible when compared to the benefits the child derives by feeling fully connected to both parents.
Thirdly, in the current sole custody approach, where one parent is a visitor, the child still has to tote belongings between households. In addition, in sole custody situations, non-custodial parents already pay for the child’s clothes via child support payments and typically are not in the position to afford or maintain a separate set of clothes at their residence – so there is even a greater likelihood of a “suit case concern” in sole-custody cases. So the very problem the post points out is more likely to happen without a presumption of joint custody than with a presumption of joint custody.
A presumption of joint custody is so critical in this country as to warrant top-priority by the federal government. I am totally shocked by today’s approach to dissolving families – it is draconian. We need Shared Parenting. Visit www.billsarena.com for a kids point of view.
|Reader Comment||Posted by: ProWorker
on Tue Mar 20, 2007 12:07 pm
|Has anyone studied what living out of a suitcase does to a child in a joint custody situation?|
|this would do NOTHING||Posted by: tommy
on Tue Mar 20, 2007 11:05 am
|I have joint custody now and the mother has told the kids they would not have to follow the courts custody?
I have reported this to the judge and he did nothing?
I also have a child that I am the one who does the visiting if I want to visit?
That mother feels she has no responsibilty to provide commuting or time from her daily grind to give that child the benifit of the other parent?
Untill the courts uphold there custody orders ,or the state provides commuting costs for the absent parents the deduction , I believe this will do nothing
|Reader Comment||Posted by: Stormn
on Tue Mar 20, 2007 9:40 am
|If what the opinion says is true, why is Hillary in the picture. She’s no role model for family values. She only care for the kids if it gets her more power.|
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