Shared Parenting Bill H1400 (One Response)

I’m a resident of Arlington and a divorced father of two children, now 10 and 13. There is a bill now before the Judiciary committee H1400, and a senate version S1569. This bill would create a rebuttable presumption of shared child custody in cases of divorce. This bill is very important to me, and to many fathers in your district.

I believe the bill is now before the judiciary committee and that there will be a hearing on it September 17th.

All modern research on children of divorce shows that children with roughly equal access to both parents have the best outcomes. Children who do not have regular access to their fathers have higher rates of drug abuse, lower school performance, higher rates of suicide, and higher rates of teen pregnancy. Regular access to I would be glad to send you the relevant research.

Yet in Massachusetts most divorces result in a parenting schedule where the children see their fathers only every other weekend. This is not enough. With a schedule like this the father’s role is reduced to that of a weekend visitor. The father loses all authority leaving the children essentially fatherless.

Too often in divorce the children are used as a bargaining chip to extract concessions from one of the parents. This happened during my divorce. I had to fight hard at great expense to secure the healthiest option for my children – joint custody with enough time to not make me irrelevant to my children’s lives. It was very expensive to fight for this and significantly reduced the assets that my ex-wife and I were left with to care for our children after the divorce.

If a shared parenting law had been in place my family could have avoided a lot of expensive negotiations with lawyers.

I have many friends who were not so lucky and did not have the money for a long legal battle and were unable to secure reasonable access to their chlidren. I know also many families who were almost completely bankrupted fighting over these issues. The lack of clarity in the law is resulting in unnecessary legal battles over child custody and in custody agreements that deprive children of access to loving fathers.

The lack of clarity in the current law also results in many situations where financial concerns of who gets how much financial support compete against the best interest of the children. Even though most children have good loving fathers – the majority lose most of their access to their fathers because ‘winning’ sole custody results in higher child support payments to mothers. A clear shared parenting law would alleviate this.

The supreme court has written that the rights of parents and children are much more valuable than property right, yet right now a parents rights to raise their child can be almost completely severed without a judge even giving a written reason as to why. With this shared parenting law, if a judge finds that it is in the best interest of the children to reduce their access to one of the parents the just must give a written reason based on evidence presented. I think this is a good minimal standard to require a judge to give written reasons based on evidence when regulating such important human rights.

I’m writing to urge you to support this bill and to ask you if there is anything you can do to help us to pass it. A small group of fathers in Arlington have been organizing to help pass this bill. I wonder if you have time to meet with us so we can talk about ways address this important issue.

It is important that we address this issue soon. Children grow up so quickly, and so many of them are missing out on critical time with both their parents.

All modern research on children of divorce shows that children with roughly equal access to both parents have the best outcomes. Children who do not have regular access to their fathers have higher rates of drug abuse, lower school performance, higher rates of suicide, and higher rates of teen pregnancy. Regular access to I would be glad to send you the relevant research.

Yet in Massachusetts most divorces result in a parenting schedule where the children see their fathers only every other weekend. This is not enough. With a schedule like this the father’s role is reduced to that of a weekend visitor. The father loses all authority leaving the children essentially fatherless.

Too often in divorce the children are used as a bargaining chip to extract concessions from one of the parents. This happened during my divorce. I had to fight hard at great expense to secure the healthiest option for my children – joint custody with enough time to not make me irrelevant to my children’s lives. It was very expensive to fight for this and significantly reduced the assets that my ex-wife and I were left with to care for our children after the divorce.

If a shared parenting law had been in place my family could have avoided a lot of expensive negotiations with lawyers.

I have many friends who were not so lucky and did not have the money for a long legal battle and were unable to secure reasonable access to their chlidren. I know also many families who were almost completely bankrupted fighting over these issues. The lack of clarity in the law is resulting in unnecessary legal battles over child custody and in custody agreements that deprive children of access to loving fathers.

The lack of clarity in the current law also results in many situations where financial concerns of who gets how much financial support compete against the best interest of the children. Even though most children have good loving fathers – the majority lose most of their access to their fathers because ‘winning’ sole custody results in higher child support payments to mothers. A clear shared parenting law would alleviate this.

The supreme court has written that the rights of parents and children are much more valuable than property right, yet right now a parents rights to raise their child can be almost completely severed without a judge even giving a written reason as to why. With this shared parenting law, if a judge finds that it is in the best interest of the children to reduce their access to one of the parents the just must give a written reason based on evidence presented. I think this is a good minimal standard to require a judge to give written reasons based on evidence when regulating such important human rights.

I’m writing to urge you to support this bill and to ask you if there is anything you can do to help us to pass it. A small group of fathers in Arlington have been organizing to help pass this bill. I wonder if you have time to meet with us so we can talk about ways address this important issue.

It is important that we address this issue soon. Children grow up so quickly, and so many of them are missing out on critical time with both their parents.

Please note, this thread is not open for comment at this time.

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    Will Brownsberger
    State Senator
    2d Suffolk and Middlesex District