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For those of you who know me or have worked with me, you probably know me as a "quiet" advocate for shared parenting. I spent many years as a part of the current custody system, which almost invariably results in marginalizing one parent or the other in a "winner-take-all" courtroom bloodbath. Once you become aware of the horrible damage that this system does to parents and, most of all, to children, there is no going back. I had to give up some aspects of my practice because I could no longer perform them in good conscience. That's not enough though; it is time for me to get off of the sidelines and into the fight.

As a private practitioner, I have had great success in relaying the benefits of shared parenting to my clients. A great number of them have chosen shared parenting, and have been very successful with it despite initial misgivings. This includes both mothers and fathers. As it turns out, social scientists and regular people are pretty much on the same page when it comes to this issue. Social scientists have done the research and favor shared parenting because of what the research tells them. Regular people tend to focus on the fact that human beings evolved over thousands of years to be a dual-parent species, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist (or even a social scientist, for that matter) to figure out that suddenly forcing ourselves into a single-parent or primary-parent model will have devastating consequences for our children.

However, it has been an extremely hard slog to get the courts (other attorneys, guardians ad litem, mental health professionals, and judges) properly incentivized to learn more about this very important issue. Most court personnel believe that imposing shared parenting on unwilling parents simply will not work, a myth that was annihilated ("debunked" is not a strong enough word) through study after study discussed at the International Conference on Shared Parenting held in Boston this past May. Unfortunately, there was exactly one judge in attendance to witness this. One judge for the entire world. For me, this fact proved without a doubt that judges are not taking this issue nearly as seriously as they should.

In my opinion, all of this intractability has to do with the fear of change and, perhaps more importantly, the fear of having to admit that the decisions we have been making for decades have been harming our children in ways that we are only just beginning to understand.

However, this video shows that there is hope. There was absolutely no opposition whatsoever in Kentucky's legislature to making shared parenting the law in that state. In fact, the participants joke in the video about just how uncontroversial this law was. It passed 97-0 in the House of Representatives and 38-0 in the Senate. This is proof positive of the power of proper education on this topic.

What happened in Kentucky was that there were incredibly knowledgeable individuals who worked tirelessly to make this law a reality. When they encountered resistance from the usual suspects (mostly those who have much to gain from keeping the current system in place, including --ahem-- custody lawyers), they stripped away all of the misinformation and told the truth until not one legislator in either the House or the Senate could be convinced to vote against this law.

Honestly, there is little hope that our courts will turn the corner on this issue on their own anytime soon, and our parents and children simply cannot wait any longer.

The great state of Kentucky is full of people who believe that parents are best positioned to raise their children well when they work together and when they respect each other as equals. Some of them are convinced by the research, and others are convinced by good old common sense. They also believe that the courts should stay out of the private lives of citizens whenever possible.

I believe that the State of Georgia is full of like-minded people. The Kentucky model could be, should be, and I believe ultimately will be the law here as well. As soon as it is, we will have secured a much better future for the children and for the parents of this state.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9CjehkC32ABy Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization I’ve written before about the enactment into law of NPO’s excelle...
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I love that you are an attorney with intelligence, compassion, AND the willingness to look around the status quo for what is best for those involved. Best of all, I love that you have conviction to advocate for what you feel is right. Those qualities in combination are surely rare these days. I am sure that there are many sides to this issue, and every case is different, but I believe children thrive in situations where they receive time and guidance from both parents.

4 months ago

The Law Offices of Woodrow Wilson Ware, LLC

Some very good advice!CO-PARENT TIP OF THE MONTH:

Opinions. They abound in co-parent relationships, but are often a huge cause of conflict. Although you have a right to share your opinions about your child’s welfare (and only about your child’s welfare), it’s best to ask yourself WHAT you hope to achieve by sharing an opinion. If you just want to be right or scold the other parent for doing something wrong, then DON’T share. It won’t have any productive value. However, if you truly hope that the other parent might hear your opinion and do something differently, then be very careful about HOW you share it. You might be upset that Johnny told you he doesn’t brush his teeth while at his mom’s house. You could send mom an email and say, “Johnny told me he doesn’t brush his teeth while with you, so I’ve attached a link to the ADA’s web site explaining what happens to a child who doesn’t brush his teeth. Furthermore, I can’t believe you neglect our child in this way. Please make sure Johnny brushes his teeth twice daily as the ADA recommends.” Chances are, mom will become a rebellious child for having been treated like a child by her ex and will determine to make sure she feeds Johnny lots of candy while at her house from now on. But If you REALLY want things to be different, an opinion needs to be shared respectfully, giving the other parent the benefit of the doubt (like you might when your child reports something about his teacher, for example). A better way to share would be, “Johnny told me he doesn’t brush his teeth while at your house. I doubt that is true, but just thought I’d mention it in case he’s just trying to manipulate us.” PERIOD. The absolute best you can hope for is NOT that mom will apologize and tell you she is a terrible parent for not making sure Johnny gets his teeth brushed. The hope we can have is that mom will feel a little stung by having been revealed by Johnny and MAYBE she will think better of her bad habit and change her ways (although she will never tell you that, so you will never know it). Analyze your reason for sharing an opinion. If it is true and good, then share respectfully. If you can’t do that then I don’t believe you really want things to change.
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Some very good advice!

 

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