Is shared parenting legislation a win?
Sadly, probably not.
In truth, it's mostly political deception intended to manufacture the appearance of change, when in fact, there is nothing that is substantively different from existing law.
To test for yourself if this statement is true, ask yourself a few questions about your proposed or existing shared parenting law:
- Does it enable an environment of conflict?
- Does it provide for the presumption of 50/50 custody?
- Is there a financial incentive to minimize or eliminate noncustodial parenting time?
- Is the problem of parental alienation addressed with the legislation?
- Are there reforms to the enforcement of child support orders?
- Are there reforms to the enforcement of custody orders?
- Are there measures to remedy false allegations of abuse made during custody proceedings?
Probably, not. Mostly likely, there are "guidelines" judges are encouraged to honor with the intention of providing noncustodial parents with more parenting time, but the legal environment is not substantively different.
Politicians are still legislating unequal custody divisions, presumably to preserve their Federal Title IVD revenue streams, and, the nebulous and overly broad "best interests of the children" doctrine is still the dominate feature of law; meaning that at the end of the day, judges are free to do whatever they want, just as they are now.
To put this in perspective, ask yourself two more questions: (1) Under existing law, are judges free to award 50/50 custody, and (2) Are they doing it?
These bills are largely theater.
With our recent open letter to legislators, we noted a few sensible features that are necessary for healthy family law. Most notably:
- Prioritize the interests of children above the interests of those who seek to profit because of them.
- Recalibrate the legal environment to encourage and reward cooperation, not conflict.
- Recognize the relationship value of both parents to children, and move the reference point to a presumption of 50/50 custody.
- Assign equal importance and the rational enforcement of both child support and custody orders.
- Child support and custody orders should reflect the needs of the children, and not the lifestyle demands of the custodial parent.
- Provide judges with resources and remedies to quickly and credibly identify legitimate instances of abuse and fraudulent allegations of it.
- Recognize that parental alienation is a form of child abuse, and should be treated with the seriousness it deserves.
The truth about the substance of shared parenting bills moving through various legislators at the moment is they are still 100 percent about the stimulation of conflict and the creation of absent parents for money, and they continue to leave the problems of parental alienation and false allegations untouched.
In a recent blog post, we talked about what's been missing from the family law reform effort, and what's needed to put an end to the political gaming and motivate legislators to make substantive and healthier reforms to family law, and within that spirit, we're making some changes here at The Love and Iron Project as well.
We've been more than patient, and in the end, what were getting from politicians are manipulations that, quite frankly, assume we're too dumb to understand what they're really up to.
We're not fooled, and we're not stupid. In fact, it's long past time to put an end to all this nonsense, and it doesn't matter if they've just passed new legislation this year; that's not our problem. We've been letting them know for the last twenty years what's needed, and if they have to turn around rework what they've just passed, well, too bad.