Shared Parenting

One of the issues that the legislature was unable to agree on in the session that ended last weekend was “shared parenting.”

Everyone supports “shared parenting” in concept — kids benefit from having two parents who can collaborate. And it is much more common now for fathers to take a very active role in day-to-day child care.

The controversial issue is whether divorce law should be changed to mandate shared parenting in post-divorce parenting plans. In the waning days of the session, the House passed a bill taking a thoughtful step in that direction.

Current law makes the best interest of the child paramount and gives no specific guidance in defining parenting plans — agreements about where the child should live, go to school, etc.  If parents cannot agree, a judge can issue whatever order seems to best protect the child, ordering any form of sharing or sole custody.  Most would agree that the child’s welfare should be determinative.

The key sentence in current law is as follows:

In making an order or judgment relative to the custody of children, the rights of the parents shall, in the absence of misconduct, be held to be equal, and the happiness and welfare of the children shall determine their custody.

The house-passed “shared parenting” legislation creates a new lead sentence that emphasizes the role of both parents:

The general court finds that every child in the commonwealth has the right to a safe, healthy and meaningful relationship with both parents, subject to the court’s determination of each child’s best interest, and encourages shared parental responsibilities.

Other language in the bill states that an allocation of residential responsibility may not be called “shared” unless it gives at least one third time to each parent. This definition creates a tilt towards these heavily shared arrangements. The bill subtly prioritizes shared parenting time in a number of other ways.

Whatever the legislature writes into statute will be attended to carefully by the judges who resolve thousands of contested divorce cases each year. Subtle language differences will have a huge impact.

The roughly 10% of cases that reach judges are the ones in which the parents could not reach an agreement on their own. So, the judge must balance the harm done by exposing the children to ongoing conflict and the complexities involved in multiple residences against the very real benefits of spending a balanced amount of time with each parent.

I have listened to many parents wounded by loss of contact with their children and I have also listened to the views of many practitioners in the family courts.  I was not comfortable with the House’s draft, because I felt that it might create too strong a push toward complex sharing arrangements in high conflict situations where they may not be workable.  If any changes are to be made in the statute, the changes should more explicitly acknowledge the need of children for a stable, safe and low-conflict living arrangement.  The best interest of the child should always be the first consideration.

There is no consensus that the process as it works now is unfair to men or to women or that judges fail to appreciate the value of both parents. Nor is there consensus about what legislative changes could help in other ways — to streamline the process and reduce backlogs, to make it easier for people who can’t afford lawyers to navigate on their own, to create incentive for parents to be civil to each other.

There are enough people who are understandably unhappy with the outcome of their divorce case that the conversation about reform will inevitably continue and as one legislator, I will remain open to that conversation over the years to come.

I welcome online comments here, but given the delicacy of the topic, will also welcome correspondence by email as well at William.brownsberger@masenate.gov.

Resources

Response of Representative John V. Fernandes, House Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary to the August 1, 2016 post by Senator William Brownsberger, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary regarding House H.4544 – An Act relative to child-centered family law.

In 2012, Governor Deval Patrick created a Working Group on Child Centered Family Laws to “review and recommend any necessary revisions to state laws to ensure that children’s rights and interests are prioritized and protected during and following court proceedings pertaining to parental decision-making, responsibility and caretaking.” The Group included members of several bar associations, psychologists, specialists in shared parenting, chief justices, parent’s rights groups, and advocates for domestic violence victims and community representatives. In 2014, a report was produced and sent to the Governor. The report was a compromise between the members of the working group with recommended revisions to G.L.c. 208 § 31, the statute that governs child custody and shared custody plans.

Over the last 10 months, Chairman Fernandes and Vice-Chairwoman Cronin met with members of the former working group, bar associations, family law practitioners, parent’s rights groups, advocates for domestic violence victims, members of the public, and probate court judges and court personnel on H.4544 – An Act relative to child-centered family law. The bill reflects careful consideration of all the comments and concerns raised about the previous drafts of the bill (H.1207 and H.4107), and addresses those comments and concerns in a fair and balanced manner.

In his Post, Senator Brownsberger wrote that:

“The best interest of the child should always be the first consideration.”

-Will Brownsberger, 8/1/16 Post

Subsection D of the House bill, which Senator Brownsberger criticizes as not being in the best interest of the child states that, “In determining parental responsibilities, both at the time of entry of orders and judgment, the court shall at all times be guided by the best interest of the child…” The “best interest of the child” is referenced 8 times in this House legislation. It is the policy around which the House bill is built. With the best interest of the child as the guiding principle, this legislation does the following:

  • Provides that each child has a right to a safe and healthy relationship with both parents and that the legislature encourages shared parental responsibilities.
  • Allows for shared parenting plans where one child’s period of residing with and being under the care and responsibility of each parent amounts to one-third or more of the parenting time. This legislation does not create a presumption of shared parenting or tilt towards favoring a one-third or more parenting time agreement.
  • Includes a list of factors for the court to take into consideration when determining parental responsibilities that are overwhelmingly child-centered and address areas such as domestic violence (physical, emotional and psychological), sexual abuse, special needs of the child, parental substance abuse, domestic living conditions and sibling relationships.
  • Requires parenting plans to be incorporated into every order, divorce judgment and any modified judgment involving parental responsibility for minor children.
  • Guides unrepresented and low-income litigants with clear factors to present during proceedings and when developing a parenting plan.

This legislation gives guidance to parents, at the outset of proceedings, as to what the parents should be considering as part of a parenting plan that is in the best interest of their child. Senator Brownsberger and I came into the Legislature together and remain close friends. I have a great respect for his opinions on legislation and policy. However, it is one thing to posture a disagreement on policy but the Senator’s post picks of one sentence out of the House bill and characterizes the entire House bill as all about the parents and not the best interest of the child, and that is totally unfair and inaccurate reading of the House bill. The current law may in words encourage the best interest of the child, but we disagree that the law in practice has achieved that goal.

We encourage our senate counterparts to engage the debate, cite the specific weaknesses in the House bill, and offer alternatives that modernize our law and truly protect the rights of children to a shared relationship with their parents. We have five more months in this session to accomplish that goal.

Comment of Will Brownsberger on August 23, 2016

I want to thank everyone who has commented on this thread — especially Chairman Fernandez, Terry Brennan and Peter Van Oudenaren who have devoted considerable attention to providing thoughtful responses. The issues are deep and important and I fully intend to continue to give them continuing attention through this fall into next year.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

107 replies on “Shared Parenting”

  1. I deeply regret that the bill that was crafted by 18 experts in the field and than amended to mollify the Bar Associations did not pass. Kids benefit from both of their parents in their lives. This bill would have reduced conflict and encouraged more parents to cooperate. Hopefully in the next session the bill can be tweaked so that all feel comfortable moving this important legislation forward.

  2. I knew nothing meaningful would happen with this legislation, that’s why the annual obligatory shared parenting bill is always held during the dead time in the middle of summer, and I always refer to it with cynicism it deserves. To put it bluntly, my young family was savaged by these Courts and all of its hangers on, who really should all go out and get real jobs, how about it guys ? But there are way, way too many charlatans and outright thieves over there profiteering off the misery caused by policies supported and inspired by their own hypocritical self serving self delusional propaganda, for any meaningful change to ever happen. We’ve been there, we’ve seen it, we know. You’d think in the 21st century elites and political insiders, with the support of “elite” institutions, feeding off the misfortune of others would be pass’e. Phooey.

      1. Well you only live once, and when a corrupt government puts the kibosh on your family’s hopes and dreams it is not exactly a time to embrace its malevolence along with and all its cheerleaders and sycophants. Wouldn’t you agree ? Although it might certainly affect someone’s “custody rights” if the overseers heard him or her speak that way about their institution.

        1. I actually don’t know what you’re talking about. So I can’t agree or disagree with you. But you’re clearly very angry about something.

          1. Sorry, I should explain,, I’m angry because a corrupt government puts the kibosh on my family’s hopes and dreams and I do not feel that it its a time to embrace its malevolence. Oh yeah, divorce and the best interest of the children were the pretext for such blatant misconduct. They are corrupt as they are hypocritical.

    1. Sorry, maybe it’s more polite to reply to your own posts, but there are only so many opportunities to rail against this corrupt tyrannical regime. If people realized how incredibly “unnatural” from an unnatural law point of view the whole system is they’d wake up and realize it can’t be fixed by simply asking its victims to change their outlook on it. Come on.

  3. I don’t think you can legislate collaborative parenting. I’m going through this process now and found two things helpful: using a mediator, and — surprisingly — the mandated parenting classes (run also by mediators). Both encouraged us to put the kids first in all our dealings, to arrange our new lives in order to maximize each parent’s time with kids and to reduce uncertainty, stress, conflict, etc. for them. I think that in a “normal” divorce (not one that involves abuse, drug use, incarceration, etc.), mandating the use of a mediator and adding more required parenting classes would go a long way towards helping divorcing families navigate the difficulties of custody. A court can force more time with one or the other parent, but without buy-in from both parents, such an arrangement will only create more conflict and more disruption and pain for the kids. It’s much better if the co-parents can come to these decisions on their own, with expert guidance from neutral third parties.

  4. I’m inclined to agree with you. The new House version substitutes a right of the child for what previously were equal rights of the parents. That change sounds pro-child, but in essence, in the contentious divorce cases that reach the court, it turns the child into an adversary of one or even both parents. That cannot be good for the child. (And must the child find a separate lawyer to argue the case?) If the parents cannot agree on terms of access, let the parents fight with each other about it, under the current provision in which they each have the presumption of equal rights of access.

  5. Abuse is not always crystal clear, but often disguised. More frequently than not, parents, who are controlling or have tendencies to control, only feint interest in the children, so as to avoid paying child support. The language contemplated by the changes only empowers such individuals.
    If the legislature and governor would increase funding for support staff and judges, the probate and family court could attend to the inundation of pro se litigants, who expect the system to counsel them.

    1. I’ve heard this argument about parents (read ‘fathers’) pretending to be interested in their children in order to avoid child support – and never with any supporting evidence about this being a social trend rather than one person’s experience.

      This proposed bill was clearly written to NOT effect child support guidelines. In fact, anyone who knows how the child support guidelines in this state work will tell you that giving one parent 1/3 parenting time will not change support orders by one dime.

      I don’t know why I am still amazed that people do not actually read the bill or listen to the experts. People glace at a headline and then fit that into their personal view on life – and then vote yes or no based just on that.

      I will continue to work hard to change the current system – which is badly broken and corrupt. It will not likely be in time to help my son get more time with me, but perhaps it will help children in the future.

  6. Its the current process and outdated laws that create the conflict.Its broken and bias.The original written bill would have created a equal playing field for all parties.Mom/Dad and children would have had equal time,child support gets paid on-time and everyone’s happy. there were provisions in the bill to safe guard children if there are written findings contrary to no equal time.There are passionate parents who will continue this change and the evidence is overwhelming that shared parenting is rich/healthy for all.

  7. If parents aren’t inclined to cooperate, wording the law differently won’t change their attitudes. Furthermore, I don’t believe that children need to have equal relationships with both parents. Certainly plenty of average children with married parents are closer to one parent than another. The wording of the law makes it seem open for abuse by whichever parent is likely to receive less custody/time/etc. The only interesting point might be that “an allocation of residential responsibility may not be called “shared” unless it gives at least one third time to each parent.” How would this impact child support provided by a parent who sees a child, say, only on weekends (so 2/7 or 28.5% of the time)? Could a parent claim to have the child on Friday as well, become residentially responsible, and thus avoid child support payments?I’m not clear on how this normally works so the change isn’t clear, either.

    1. The Child Support Guidelines are separate from the parenting guidelines proposed. Obviously if each had 50 percent of the time the costs would be shared equally. The bill was a guideline for trying to make sure both relationships are maintained. I disagree with you that it is not important. All studies show kids do better with both parents.

    2. Parents aren’t inclined do to the bias of the current law,it favor’s one parent over the other.I’m sure there is plenty of children born out of wedlock who wish they could be closer to another parent (40% an on the rise).Parental alienation is abuse.No accountablitiy of the child support received by custodial parent.this is the current law for which is broken and bias..its needs to change.

  8. Will, I am a great believer in the importance of shared parenting… and I am definitely with you on this one. In the absence of data supporting 1/3-time as being specifically beneficial, it does seem as though putting it into the legislation will give it magic power.

    1. “In the absence of data supporting “….the data is overwhelming by socialogist,child developement experts,child psychologist that children benefit sigificantly when having equal access to both loving/caring and fit parents.

    2. The 1/3 or more came from being consistent with the Child Support Guidelines in Massachusetts.

  9. The best interest of the child is most important. This should always include a stable, safe and low-conflict living arrangement. Otherwise, how can this be in the best interest of the child? Thank you for pointing this out.

    1. How would you as a parent feel that one day your a family unit,caring for your children everyday and the next day your a vistor. the current system is broken and bias. Now one parent doesnt see his kids enough (visitor),other parent is overwhelmed and the children are sadden that dont have equal parenting time.This is the existing process that needs to change and is badly broken.

    2. Nina: I totally agree. Let’s go back to the old time, even here in the good ol’ USA. When you divorce, the kids go to the parent who can provide them the best financial support, the most stable household. I agree with you, let’s give the full custody to the FATHER when parents divorce.

  10. I’m not sure I think the State should intervene and legislate anything about shared parenting. It seems like too much interference.

    1. While it is altruistic to say the Government should not interfere. The reality is that Divorce is a Governmental process and involves members of the Government (i.e. Judges). Since it does involve the Government, this bill was just a road map to help the Judges navigate the process. If we ever take the courts out of the process and just do Mediation, which may not be a bad thing, we attempted to make it easier and fairer for all.

      1. Give it up man or up your game. It’s totally rigged, people have been trying to fix it for 30 years and it doesn’t happen. Too much money, all you have to do is be a complete moral ignoramus to play the game and you win, all the moral indignation in the world won’t change that.

  11. I expect that many custody contentions are based on purported misconduct of a parent. But what constitutes misconduct? It could range from physical abuse that can be verified forensically to not leaving a note for a teenager coming home from school and sauntering in hours later. Awarding, or not awarding joint custody/shared parenting depends on a clear description and scope of “misconduct.”

    Is parental “misconduct” defined somewhere? If yes, please post where? Thank you.

    1. The bill had factors for Judges to consider. They included whether one parent was abusive or not, an alcoholic or drug abuser or not and others. There were many factors to help a Judge make a decision. This bill was crafted by many experts in the field. No bill is perfect but this bill was a consensus bill and should have been allowed to go forward. We will work in the next session to try to address as many concerns as possible for the benefit of the children and families in the Commonwealth.

  12. Well there’s your problem right there. It’s your resources. They are all law based. Try resources on Abraham Maslow, Erik Erickson, Jean Piaget, to truly understand what is best for a child.

  13. Will,

    I appreciate your email, the thought that you put into not supporting this bill, and your outcome.

    Privately, I came from a divorced family with five kids (at the time, age 9-16), where my father got full custody.

    As I look back as an adult, where my kids are past the ages we were, and where I knew the circumstances of my parents and now the outcomes 30 years later, forcing a shared environment would not have been in the best interest of us kids.

    My father, within two years took a job 200 miles from where we grew up in Rhode Island and this new start was good for everyone, including my mother.

    All situations are different but for me, putting the burden on a judge and not constricting them to law, I believe is the best.

    1. The bill did not do away with Judicial discretion. Even in your parents case, they still would have been allowed to do what they did. The bill was just a road map and not a mandate.

    2. 30 years later….the family model has changed so much, and now the custody laws must reflect this actual change.

  14. Every once in a while when I cool down, and think that maybe some people want to do the right thing here, I do wonder, do the powers-that-be actually consult ethicists, philosophers, theologians, economists, and the like about what the best interest of the children is ? Or is it some consensus that Judges, clerks, donors, donor-lawyers, business leaders, human resource executives, miss guided socialites and the like
    come to over cocktails ?

    1. http://lw4sp.org/research/ Check out that page to start with (there are plenty more of published studies out there). The data are there. The best interest of the children is to have access to BOTH of their parents. This fight is not about policy. It is about politics as usual. The lawyers simply don’t want to give up their gravy train of easy divorce money. This is what it is about, they of course will eloquently tell you how shared parenting will harm little Timmy and Jane. What they mean is that their kids, little Timmy and Jane, will lose their chance to have their own yacht if the shared parenting legislation is passed.

      1. The problem is with this system is, even if Timmy and Jane do get a yacht (in my case at least they’d have something), unless they’re parent’s are attorneys, judges or family therapists, they won’t have the yacht for long. The industry will drain their bank accounts while they squirm for justice and send them on their way when there’s nothing to take from them anymore.

        Shared parenting would greatly reduce the stranglehold that the Family Law industry and its suppliers have on our live’s, and their incomes would plummet. That’s why they need to leave in the trigger points, like domestic violence, that invoke another one of their clever devices to trigger steps that automatically lead to litigation (10,000.00 bucks worth if the mark/marks have any money).

        1. That’s the play where they traumatize the living heck out of a family and then strongarm them into bringing in a white knight to save the day (very often affiliated with Mass General for some strange reason). In the old days insurance companies didn’t pay for all of it so they had to turn the screws pretty tight.

          1. The point of that is to wear down your resistance. I think Judges sometimes think they’re letting you punch yourself out while their buddies pick up a pretty good paycheck. All he wants is never to see you again, I don’t think he cares what happens really.

    2. So a responsible father/provider, not one of these bogeymen they chase all the time has to navigate life paying out, who knows, 50, 60, 70 per cent of the family income, and pick up whatever slack is left after the Court’s insane way of divining what is in the best interest of the child falls short. Then he/she has to pay thousands of dollars (if he or she is smart) and bend on one knee in front of the bench for relief, AFTER, financial changes have already occurred that negatively the family’s budget. BEFORE wouldn’t even get a hearing. But that’s only to beg for an emergency motion, which probably is DENIED !!!, if the family has any resources left an opposing attorney (but they’re both in the game), will demand a trial, knowing that the court will violate its own sanction against contingency funding and allow it to go forward. The defendant probably wouldn’t even have to show up. Otherwise they’re done with you, go grind it out as long as you can and then show up with your head hanging low, one last time.
      This is the scenario they would identify as men/providers using their financial power to their own advantage. They do that a couple of times and then leave it to your family members to pick up the pieces for he rest of their lives.

        1. And they know how much you have left, they have a very thorough process in place to know that, legal fees in financial forms are sort of off budget in an odd way. Plus the money players develop a sense for how much they can squeeze out of your friends and family. Getting more than you last dollar, that takes talent.

          1. Oh, the way they do that is by doing a wink and nod thing to sidestep the ban on contingency fees by filing a contempt motion and leaving it open. Dumb-arses, at least the first time, probably don’t even know what’s coming when they get the bill for them and the other side being rushed into generating hundreds of pages of useless junk that probably clutters their basement (if they have the luxury of having a basement) to this day, unless mercifully it got moldy so they had an excuse to throw it out.

            1. And the beautiful aspect of this scheme is that, unlike any bill I can think of, because it’s contempt, you have to pay attorney X, Y dollars before sundown or you go to jail. Okay, maybe they give you 30 days. There was a name for it in old Judge Ginsburg’s court, the day they drag all the guys in and haul them down to Middlesex jail. I forget the term and thank God, I have’t been there for while so I haven’t been reminded.

      1. Sorry, but I explained this dilemma to the joint judiciary committee 20 years ago and aside from a little flutter of populist activity to lighten up their day day and some fun cycle jackets to contrast with their Armani suits, they didn’t do squat, and I told chairman Donnelly at the time that I knew they wouldn’t do squat.

        1. Another aspect of the system is that it rewards people who can endure torture. Like in the old Soviet System, the accused, if they were forewarned, had to keep their whits and never submit. If they didn’t submit, they’d walk out free, and a little immunized after a few weeks, but if they did go along and submit, so they could rest their minds, bang ! Ten years in a labor camp. This systems is actually harder to resist in some ways, but they want the same thing. That’s why lawyers always write up these phony, “you are submitting to this against my advice” CYA documents when people can’t take it any longer. They probably don’t hold water but, what does it matter, you’re headed to the Gulag.

  15. Will, you make clear that you would like to see changes in the proposed bill such that “the changes should more explicitly acknowledge the need of children for a stable, safe and low-conflict living arrangement. The best interest of the child should always be the first consideration.”

    Did you make movements to offer such changes to the bill? Were the suggestions you made rebuffed by the House? How did you make you concerns known before the end of the session?

    Thanks,

    1. There was sadly no input from the Senate side prior to the vote on ways to improve the bill. We worked with the House side and tried to allay the concerns of the Bar Associations. No such effort was made on the Senate side but it would have been welcome if it were offered. None was offered nor any concerns were expressed, at least not to me, one of the members of the working group who was active trying to work with all parties to come out with a fair and responsible bill.

  16. “There is no consensus that the current process is unfair to men or women”. That is all you need to see here because besides the process being unfair to men it’s also unfair to the children many times.
    It’s easy to discriminate against men in family courts. Why does 80-90% of the time the women gets full custody? Or that recent research in shared parenting has come to the conclusion that it’s the best situation for most kids/parents. No consensus though.
    The 10% of high conflict divorce cases are high conflict because of the system that you seem to be protecting. While we do have emotional folks that use the courts to try and punish an ex, we also have lawyers that profit off of other’s misery. We have lawyers that support false allegations as a tactic in many divorces.
    To not even acknowledge that fact alone is a travesty in itself. Take the lawyers out of the system and I bet many of the issues in family courts will cease.

    1. Here is the main reason (and probably the ONLY reason) why lawyers are against this common-sense reform. I was at jury duty the other day and during the wait I spent some time looking at the displayed docket at the circuit court where I was. A good 40% of the case in my estimate was DIVORCE cases!!! It is like the main reason for existence of the court now is to handle all these divorce cases (and suck the money out of the poor divorcing parents—divorce is a 50 BILLION industry). THAT is the reason why the lawyers are against reform that makes divorce less litigious. It is not about the kids, it is not about the divorcing parties. As usual, it is about MONEY!!!!

  17. Thank goodness this didn’t pass. The pendulum has already swung way too far in serving men’s self interest as opposed to serving the children or preserving the family unit in the first place.

    Father’s have the money so they are the ones pushing self serving legislation and then use custody threats as leverage against Moms.

    Father’s already have custody rights. Ones that are in the best interest of the children. Forcing children to live like gypsies and not allowing them a home base is disruptive. Children shouldn’t be forced to live like that.

    1. What study do you base this on? Your argument is sexist biased and violates the equal protection law. Kids need both parents

    2. “Fathers have the money” — is that right? This is how you make law, when a WOMAN is just few months away from becoming a US president?

      “Fathers already have custody rights. Ones that are in the best interest of the children.” — And “the best interest of the children” in the mind of many people in the court system now = “attachment theory” = mom gets the kids. Believe it or not they are still teaching this BS to everybody in the court system now when all the latest research (and I am talking about published studies within the last decade or two, not even just a year ago) have shown that what is best is for the kids to have as equal access to both parents as possible.

    3. I think the pendulum has reversed itself – from what I have seen it is the woman who have the upper advantage. Sad to say but in Massachusetts a woman can claim abuse or sexual assault with out any proof in family court. Restraining orders are almost automatically given to woman who are told by the victims assistant to say the magic words “I fear for my Life” – it is sad that I even say these things. I have known many a father who the courts have ordered them to pay almost the entire salary except for $100 a week to live on – with no requirements for the woman to seek work even part time work. I have even seen fathers ordered to pay more claiming “Imuputed Income” were a man once made much more than he currently is and the court is telling him he must pay support based on the higher rate

  18. All U.S. citizen natural parents, both male and female, father and mother both, if both are legal adults at the time of a physical conception (a normal pregnancy), equally have and equally share full legal and physical custodial rights to their mutual natural child, automatically vested into each and both such natural parents, from the very moment of birth of such living child.

    There is no magical difference between the pre-existing, full legal and physical child custodial rights enjoyed and retained by a natural parent sued by child protection services (TX = “DFPS”), or the very same and exactly equal, pre-existing, full legal and physical child custodial rights enjoyed and retained by any natural parent sued in divorce-and-similar-with-kids family court – both situations are exactly the same, with the state action alleging, whether expressly revealed or not, that the targeted (generally “respondent” or “defendant”) party is too seriously unfit to continue retaining his or her same pre-existing, well-established, superior child custodial rights in full force, which requires the state to first prove “unfitness” by clear and convincing evidence under full due process procedures, including that parent’s right to invoke trial by jury.

    Well over one hundred (100+) years of consistent, enormous case law from both the state and federal courts also routinely affirms: (a) that not only are these same parental custodial rights to their natural minor child superior to “mere” constitutional rights, i.e., these custodial rights are always entitled to full due process protections in at least the same full procedural measure as any so-called “mere” right enumerated by our Federal Constitution, i.e., more important than those “mere” guarantees within the Bill of Rights and elsewhere; (b) but also that the State cannot even begin to question, let alone invade or impinge upon, those pre-existing, fully vested legal and physical custodial rights that natural parents have to their own minor children, unless and until the State would first prove, and only then by clear and convincing evidence performed under full due process procedures, that either or both such natural parent(s) is/are found seriously “unfit” within a competent court of proper jurisdiction, too seriously unfit to continue retaining their same such pre-existing and already fully vested legal and physical custodial rights to such child.

    Within divorce and similar proceedings, it is an utter fallacy, an outright unconstitutional fraud, and a legal nullity, for any state court to attempt to pretend to “grant” or “award” any form of custody (“legal” and/or “physical”) of any child to either and/or both natural parents of that child, since they both already have child custody rights fully vested into each and both of them, long prior to ever entering into any state court action; The given state court in any such similar proceeding (i.e., not discussing post-deprivation actions in the realm of child protective services actions, which are quite different in their origination and purposes as between the state and the given parent or parents) cannot falsely and fraudulently pretend to ostensibly “award” or “grant” something it does not have (child custody) to someone who already has it (child custody) fully, or more correctly described as fully flagrant discrimination and fraud by typically allowing just one parent to continue retaining her/his pre-existing child custody rights, but in fact removing the other parent’s exact same and also pre-existing child custody rights, without so much as even bothering to inform that other parent that all such rights are constitutionally-protected rights that cannot be simply taken away without first going through full due process, i.e., perpetrating all manner of unlawful administrative end-runs, by repugnant statutes, against constitutional rights, to (a) defraud the unsuspecting parent of his/her superior rights without even telling them that is what is actually going on, (b) in order to falsely reclassify that same unsuspecting parent into a so-called “noncustodial” parent, (c) in order to begin generating all sort of financial windstreams.

    Any statute, regulation, or rule pretending to ostensibly provide any state court with authority to grant or award child custody, within divorce and similar actions involving children, but without also requiring first an affirmative due process finding of serious parental unfitness, is directly unconstitutional upon its face, and fails the test of constitutionality.

  19. Absent any abuse or neglect, Shared Parenting should be the norm!

    Anyone objecting this has financial incentives!

    1. I agree Steve. I’ve seen way too many fathers who were given only visitation rights even though they were clearly the better parents. Any woman can give birth to a child but that has nothing to do with being a good mother

  20. Actually they invented this thing called Family Law, and I’m pretty sure some sarcastic vein inside me could … oh man it’s so ripe given its sanctimonious pretext.

  21. Based on the lack of posts nobody cares, so that must mean things are good. If that’s true then maybe the Attorney General should sue the probate court for large scale patterns an practices in the 90’s and early 2000’s not consistent with the rights deserved to those it was serving. How would that work ?

  22. And it is very painful to think about and relive and takes a lot of effort to discuss. Anyone with PTSD will explain to you that reliving your trauma like this is not pleasant. So you’re welcome.

  23. It’s not that you come back with your hand in your hand one last time to be saved by the court. It’s that these maniacs finally let go because there isn’t another $ 3500.00 retainer coming.

  24. I don’t know, not gonna get too effusive yet. But take em down Will, go for it.

  25. I’m sorry again, but just so my annual comments about the Probate Court and Divorce industry are less conveniently received as the rantings of a “bitter” divorced guy. I assert the following:

    In some but not all cases:

    The court condones and particate in what amounts to torture.
    The purpose of said torture is to compel litigants into unfair, unsustainable agreements.
    The court then condones and particates in what amounts to extortion.
    The means of extortion are to shake people down while they try to break these bonds to achieve a more sustainable life.
    This is as an aggregious violation of human rights as bas as many things that most Americans see as remote and historical.
    It is a common and well known practice.
    It is a widespread conspiracy.
    It has almost no social value.
    This same game has been played by despots in different ways forever.
    Kabish ?
    </ul)
    </ul)

     And for those of you who slept through Suffolk Law School at night:
        There was once a man name William Blackstone, you should look him up.

  26. The Massachusetts House recently passed a Shared Parenting bill, a momentous achievement, fourteen years in the making. The bill was a compromise effort of a Governor’s Working Group including bar associations, chief justices, parent’s groups, and advocates for domestic violence.

    The bill had the endorsement of each member of the Working Group and the Boston Globe Editorial Board. Shared parenting has received tremendous support as an overwhelming amount of research shows its best for children, families and society. Shared Parenting has been endorsed by 110 world experts, is supported by 43 peer reviewed papers, and was the conclusion of the largest study ever on child wellbeing, reviewing 150,000 children after separation or divorce.

    Further, a non-binding ballot initiative in the 2004 Massachusetts election seeking citizen endorsement for a default of shared parenting received over 600,000 votes and passed with 86% in favor. The overwhelming favorability of Massachusetts citizens isn’t unusual as Shared Parenting consistently receives over 70% support in both polling and legislative votes.

    With such results, 20 states considered shared parenting bills in the last legislative session with Utah, Missouri, and Arizona recently passing laws enabling children to spend more time with their fathers. In fact, Arizona lawyers now tell Fathers their children have a 90% chance of being allowed equal (50%) parenting time and all agree, the new law is working well.

    Yet in the Massachusetts Senate, the Bill wasn’t even allowed out of the Judiciary Committee for a vote. Why?

    In justifying his opposition, Senate Chair of the Judiciary Committee, William Brownsberger, cited three points:

    “Whether divorce law should be changed to mandate shared parenting in post-divorce plans,”
    “It might create too strong a push toward complex sharing arrangements in high conflict situations,” and “There is no consensus that the process as it works now is unfair to men or to women or that judges fail to appreciate the value of both parents.”

    Senator Brownsberger’s counterpart, House Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Representative John V. Fernandes responded to the Senator’s first objection, characterizing it as “a totally unfair and inaccurate reading of the House bill.”

    I will focus on the Senator’s latter points of objection.

    As a co-founder of Leading Women for Shared Parenting, an international child advocacy group, I’ve seen “conflict” used before in an attempt to block reform; almost always by the Bar Associations. Bar Associations are special interest groups representing attorneys and they don’t like Shared Parenting.

    Instead of being influenced by attorneys who seldom even meet the children involved, Senator Brownsberger was given the opportunity to hear the 110 world experts who endorsed shared parenting with an offer extended to introduce the Senator to the psychiatrists, psychologists, child development experts, domestic violence experts, and family law experts making the endorsement.

    Included in the paper endorsed by this esteemed group is a lengthy section on “conflict” stating:

    “A meta-analysis of 33 studies reported better emotional, behavioral, and academic functioning for children in joint physical custody compared with children in sole custody, regardless of the level of conflict between parents.”

    “More parenting time is not associated with poorer child outcomes in high-conflict families where there is no violence or abuse.”

    “Conflict was neither more nor less damaging for children in shared care-time arrangements than for children in other arrangements.”

    “Rather than magnify harmful effects of parental conflict, shared parenting may protect children from some of its negative consequences.”

    The 110 experts concluded their section on conflict stating:

    “A policy of automatically denying joint physical custody when a couple is labeled as ‘high conflict’ brings additional drawbacks in addition to denying children the protective buffer of a nurturing relationship. It sends the message that generating or sustaining conflict can be an effective strategy to override shared custody.”

    So while “conflict” between divorcing parents is no justification to deny shared parenting legislation, it is, ironically, the reason why shared parenting legislation is difficult to pass. In his review of the implementation of shared parenting in Australia, University of British Columbia Professor Edward Kruk found:

    “A marked reduction in child custody litigation has also been noted since the new legislation, with applications to court over child custody falling by a staggering 72%. Court determined parenting arrangements fell from 7.8% to 2.8% of cases and lawyer negotiation from 10.6% to 5.8% of cases. Corresponding to decreased litigation has been a marked increase in the use of family relationship centers and family mediation services. And most Australian parents (72%) now resolve parenting arrangements without the use of any legal services.” (The Equal Parent Presumption, Dr. Edward Kruk, page 45)

    Such results are why Bar Associations oppose shared parenting as it translates directly into reduced revenue for their membership.

    While Senator Brownsberger’s has every right to his opinion “There is no consensus that the process at it works now is unfair to men or to women or that judges fail to appreciate the value of both parents,” the public deserves to know the realities of Family Court results.

    As reported in the Boston Globe, Dr. Joseph McNabb, a professor at Northeastern University, analyzed custody decisions from Worcester Probate and Family Court in 1994-95 and found that fathers won sole physical custody (usually with shared legal custody) in slightly fewer than 9 percent of all cases. An additional 6 percent got shared physical custody. More recently, MIT Professor Phillip Greenspun conducted a study of every divorce case in Middlesex County in May of 2011. That study found:

    “Women won custody more than 91% of the time that there was a ‘primary’ parent.”

    “Only 7.5% of the children whose custody was at issue in May 2011 lawsuits in Middlesex ended up with true shared parenting or ‘joint physical custody.'”

    The report concluded:

    “It is not rational for fathers to fight for custody because their chances of winning primary or shared parenting are insignificant.”

    Despite the production of overwhelming research showing shared parenting is best for children in the sixteen years between the two studies, the Massachusetts Family Court results were almost identical in separating children from their fathers.

    Upon receiving these and other statistics on the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court, Senator Brownsberger responded, “I agree that these statistics are troubling and that routine collection and disclosure of related statistics could be helpful.”

    While it’s no surprise those practicing in the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court don’t admit there’s sexist bias in our Courts, should everyone need to agree before reform is implemented?

    Certainly, not all agreed with other “controversial” reforms, like gay marriage, equal pay or transgender rights, before they were implemented. Especially given the large body of research supporting shared parenting, why should children and the entire paternal side of their family be held to a different standard? Or is the difference solely because denying fathers a relationship with their children is estimated as an industry rivaling the auto industry in size?

    In 2017, the International Conference on Shared Parenting will be held in Boston, bringing the leading experts in the world on timesharing and child development after divorce. A personal invitation has already been sent to Senator Brownsberger, such that he can debate his concerns against those who’ve dedicated their careers and considerable talents to the subject. For the good of Massachusetts children, I certainly hope Senator Brownsberger will attend.

    1. I totally agree with what Mr. Terry Brennan wrote here. It is well thought out, based on research and more.

      It is a shame that this bill was not allowed to go forward and that the Senate did not express ANY of their concerns prior to them not taking it up in the end and after they let the bill in a slightly different form out of the Judiciary Committee. Now we have to wait another year for that input while more children of the Commonwealth are still impacted by the current dysfunctional system. This could have been handled a lot better, sorry to say. Very disappointed on how this was done or basically not done.

    2. I agree with you , sorry, I’ve been so busy thinking about how flawed this system, that uses the best interest of the child to rationalize its crimes, is, that I forgot to address the current debate.

      The system causes and stirs conflict pure and simple, it’s silly for people who haven’t walked the walk to think the primitive human mind is so self destructive that purely driven be ego it would throw its body into a suicidal fight with a government backed industry dedicated to dismantling families for a profit, against all its dogma, dream on.

      Plus they make all of their money on high conflict divorces, and every tin pot court house needs to have its own version of Attorney X, the hit man/woman. Then some phony (rumpled attorney Y) or attorney Z, who’s so dumb he must be honest, rescues the family from the evil that attorney X might rain down on them. And before you know it, things work out they way they needed to in the first place, everyone grows up, moves on, and all that happened was these maniacs ruined a lot of opportunities for a lot of people. I guess they made the payments for their kids prep school bills on time. Who knows I can’t speak for them. The industry uses injustice and the conflict that arises from it as a feed stock. Without it there’d be no profits in the divorce industry and it would wither back to was it was supposed to do, which has always been pretty nasty. I wish some historian would dig into how divorce has been missused over the centuries by despots, probably fascinating. Even if cops refused to handle restraining orders and manvictions, or whatever they call them, in the way the divorce industry expects them to when they start pulling the levers, the outcomes would be different, and the kids wouldn’t all end up broke, like they do now because of this one income mobility vehicle in America that actually works, straight down. Ha ha, there’s another one, an economist who can integrate could probably actually calculate the net effect these lunatics have on income mobility and inequality. Probably HUGE!!!

  27. Parents who can do shared custody and have a “civil divorce” never make it to court. They agree before the judge has to intervene. However some parents can’t agree and then the court needs to decide the best arrangement for the children. With my divorce if my exhusband had more time with the children he would have caused more emotional trauma to the children. If this was the law, then my poor children would have been exposed to much more trauma then they already have been. I like it the way it is. It protects the children and that is paramount.

    1. It is a total lie perpetuated over and over again by opponents of shared parenting, particularly the bar. Parents who make it to court are the brave ones. Most people see the writing on the wall, are being guided by the system, being explicitly told by the members of the cabal (lawyers, mediators, guardians ad litem, best interest attorneys, and whatever else) that you are not going to win it. Some are just flat broke after years of waiting before they get to see the judge and have no way to continue the legal path. So, no, parents who don’t make it to court don’t necessarily have better ability for shared custody. It often means simply one party (and their lawyer) has succeeded in using the system labyrinth to suck out all the will and resources of the other parent to continue fighting for their kids.

      1. You are right there, going to court, especially trial, seems like a brave or defiant act but it is really a pointless act of self immolation.

      2. One the ingenious properties of this contraption is the more the children need considerate adjudication (actually they really need a social worker and a probation officer, but that’s another story), or to give put it another way and give them a flimsy benefit of ethical doubt, the more someone, even who they think is delusional, advocates that the children need a different solution, the more expensive, punitive and destructive the system becomes. An unfortunate side effect that they can’t really fix is that the children are actually considered last, not first.

    2. If you husband was truly dangerous as you stated, than this bill would have protected you and your children. The bill had factors for Judges to consider and gave Judges a road map to determine shared parenting or not. This bill would have protected you and your children if he was as dangerous to your kids as he said he was.

      However, if you were a parent who is just poisoning the water and are a parental alienator, this bill would have protected your children and their father too.

      No bill is perfect, and this bill just gave Judges a better road map to make a proper decision.

  28. I’ve been PTSD-ing but I’ll look look at the thoughtful posts I’ve missed over the past few days, maybe tomorrow to see if there’s anything new. And I’m enormously grateful for this meaningful open Government forum that was really unheard of in Ma 20 years ago, unless I just missed something and that is normal now.

    And Wiil, and others, if you are still buffaloed that anything decent is going on, pull a Prince & the Pauper thing someday and just sit around Middlesex Probate Court in Cambridge for a few hours. Is that your aspiration for our Commonwealth ? Why ?.

    I think a class action civil rights lawsuit is the best outcome, but how do you identify the plaintiff, is it the bar association, the government, every attorney and professional that ever settled a case or signed a paper for example, in Middlesex of Norfolk (so I hear) Probate courts.

  29. And if the government is going to do something about this you should get people in the document rooms of these courthouses. They’re probably pretty well picked through already.

  30. Actually Blackstone and I are correct. Sorry guys, you can’t tinker around the edges of a fundamentally flawed, corrupt system that is just this generation’s version of an almost inevitable evil, a government and society condoned human trafficking scheme. Look it up, and then try not to embarrass yourself to future generations through the lens of history.

    1. Majority condoned, sorry. Like the Nazis, Communists, Baathists. (just not actually kidding).

    2. All the other stuff that victims rights groups wail about are symptoms of this, as are the lesser crimes, like fraud and perjury, that may be committed with impunity by the aggressors And my apologies for saying “THE” human trafficking scheme of our generation. That bothered me. Apologies to Black Lives Matter and all those poor white kids thumbing their way to caught, clinics etc.

      1. BLM et al should pay attention here though, because this is a pretty unambiguous case of criminalizing existence without even the pretense of a crime and how that can be normalized. So it provides a pretty controlled modern day case study, controlled for race even, not class though, no-no-no-no, in what goes wrong when discrimination is institutionalized.

        Didn’t want to take away from my point with this but there is also supposedly a gender component involved, beyond the silly-headed nursery school what’s best for the children “Tender Years” dogma. I think it’s really just another class issue. There’s something for everyone here. The concept of Reciprocal Altruism could maybe convince from the right (is that is the right, I don’t know) that it isn’t gender at all, just a correlation between gender and class.

        1. From that analysis and by not having blinders on (you aren’t in a court room so you don’t have to) you could very easily deduce that the best interest of the children is not the primary objective.

        2. The Tender Years principal is actually very well though out, but not for the reasons a casual observer might think. It is an essential part of their strategy to artificially create an arbitrage situation that they can then exploit.

  31. If you want (any more) of my advice, put the court in receivership and at least suspend all settlement litigations until we figure out “What the heck is going on”.

    1. Unless you want to wait a year and let these people in on the lawsuit. I claim no fair if only rich kids can afford to appeal. Okay ?

  32. I know I’m right and we were right 20 years ago. There’s probably little debate if you use the reasonable man standard about that either, and I have nothing to gain from it. A civil rights law suit is a bit like the ghost dance to the Plains Indians or more recently reparations to some, but actually much more attainable, and honestly it would be so incredibly hilarious to price out the damages on say 500,000 fraud case, and honestly it would more than a little gratifying to see these people who make their livings terrorizing and extracting economic rents from fellow citizens feel a little pain for a change. Oh, and we could all use the money of course, especially the adults who were the children that survived the “best interest of the children” mill they run up here.

    The biggest obstacle really is attorney group-think about how untouchable “Family Law” is. I’ll give up like I did last time on 9/11/2001. But if you let it fester forever and ever, then you’re all dirty.

    1. I’ll bet (it was primarily) the women the sharks conned into shilling for them need it the most.

    2. And without the sharks there’d be nothing for the guppies to feed off of, (okay lampreys) so they aren’t innocent. If they were they would have quit a long time ago.

    3. And “extracting economic rents” is just a fancy word for cheating people out of what they need so you can have more to satisfy what you want.

  33. Thank you Senator Brownsberger for this space. In this case I’d characterize it as a space where a citizen is accusing a branch of the government and a lot of people who call themselves Officers of The Court, plus others who are licensed in various ways, of crimes, not simple misunderstandings or philosophical differences, crimes. And I stick by that and I want to press the fact that I am posting these accusations, excuse me for my lack of sophistication, “officially”. I hope this designates this as something that should be looked at, archived, put on the “after this point forward it’s our fault” list. Or whatever it takes.

    I didn’t get a chance to mention it, Fareed Zakaria is good at saying it but think maybe more of a Henry Kissinger-esque voice reciting: “The banality of evil” should spur people onward.

  34. And about the “money” thing. For fans of inconsistent mathematics, out of my league and I forget the smartest reference to it, but in this case all you have to do is accept the axiom ? that you should give all of your current assets (minus economic rents) plus half or more of your future earnings to someone else. You should base this “decision” on their assertion that that this is the best function to satisfy the goal we all share, “the best interest of the children:”. And if you don’t accept this truth then you are selfish and not in it for the common good.

    All I can say is, Stalin would have given Hero of The Soviet Union to whomever got that shtick going.

  35. I’ve made quite a few accusations that I still stand by, so here’s one more, I claim no expertise other than my own eye for the unseemly, but it is my opinion that Suffolk Law School is probably corrupt, so testimony from its staff should probably be discounted as propaganda.

  36. One more thing, I’d say legislators who also practice as attorneys in these courts should recuse themselves of any voting roles with respect to these issues and all expert testimony from those who also testify in these courts, I guess that would have to include so-called Father’s Rights advocates, should be filtered with some degree of skepticism.

  37. I guess I may agree with Senator Brownsberger on one point, but possibly not for the same reasons. The five points listed hear don’t really have less to do with the best interest of the children as they do with addressing the short term trauma caused by a dysfunctional system that has no real plan for how to handle this. The fifth point, “Guides Unrepresented” to me is an admission that its overpriced at the very least and service is scaled to the wealthy (not totally true, if your broke they leave you alone but they’ll go pretty low.). And a lot of the other points really feed off of the symptoms caused by the trauma of this unnecessarily harsh system combined with it’s purposeful inefficiencies planted there for the purposes of rent seeking.

    I think the courts are involved in the business side, or monetary aspects of custody brokering as an accident of history, but the market got ahead of our knowledge. And the knowledge pool that we think we do have on the issue is extremely tainted.

    1. Sorry too many typos.

      I guess I may agree with Senator Brownsberger on one point, but possibly not for the same reasons. The five points listed here really have less to do with the best interest of the children than they do with addressing the short term trauma caused by a dysfunctional system that has no real plan for how to handle this. The fifth point, “Guides Unrepresented” to me is an admission that its overpriced at the very least and that service is scaled to the wealthy (not totally true, if you’re broke they leave you alone but they’ll go pretty low.). And a lot of the other points really attempt to ameliorate the symptoms caused by the trauma of this unnecessarily harsh system combined with its purposeful inefficiencies planted there for the purposes of rent seeking.

      I think the courts are involved in the business side, or monetary aspects of custody brokering as an accident of history, but the market got ahead of our knowledge. And the knowledge pool that we think we do have on the issue is extremely tainted.

      1. Or we can all choose to ignore the 10,000 pound white elephant sitting behind the curtain.

          1. And if you don’t believe me, ask someone who knows how to calculate the discounted cash flow valuation of one unit of custody over say 15 to 20 years.

      2. So a few big observed differences in the family structures of households in the elite class versus households in the non elite classes are that elite class households tend to divorce less than non-elite class households and also that elite class households tend to have less of an imbalance in the earnings of spouses.

        So in a divorce, in a non elite class household, these types of outlays appear to come mainly from the breadwinner, who by now has been recast as “the plaintiff”.

        Amortization Value of settlements to defendant.
        Amortization Value of payments to plaintiff’s attorney.
        Amortization Value of payments to one or more “friendly” professional witnesses.
        Amortization value of cash spent on other economic rents and damage remediation to contestants and collateral victims (these would be the children, in whose name this is all done).

        In a non elite class household, these outlays will either come via trickery or from the defendant via family assets once they are liquidated.

        The amortization value of payments to defendants attorney.

        In a non elite class household, these assets will either begin to decline or they will be forfeited by both parties for use as collateral (unless the breadwinner says screw it and signs it over (another grey area) and also that there’s enough cash flow there to refinance, but not likely).

        The asset value of the family home.

        So of these six major categories, and there are more, you run out of checks fast, believe me. One is just a total waste of accumulated capital and four, it could be argued are transferred directly from the children’s Constitutional “happiness” fund, and also it could be argued that a lot of
        this is actually wealth take from the children’s “well being” is actually transferred to the elite class, which happens to experience less divorce, and has less required trauma because of spouses more similar earning potentials.

        That isn’t good at all.

        1. Sorry I forgot one major category, bad, bad for the non-elite team but neutral for the elite team, although elite plaintiffs may have more options here as well. For non-elites, the IRS insists that assets liquidated to cash to be used for settlements (and legal bills) is actually income, so more has to be liquidated than just what is settled upon.

        2. But fortunately it is alas self regulating, because the wheels of justice grind to a resounding halt as soon as you run out of money.

        3. And if there actually is anyone out there reading, for people who haven’t followed this thread from the beginning. The concept of reciprocal altruism is this: class A is > both classes B and C (where > equals with greater resources than) and usually class B > C. The act occurs when class A makes an offer to class C, that is to the detriment of class B and B’s dependents, and by the way, it is ultimately also detrimental to class C and C’s dependents if their best interest functions are not orthogonal, but the arrangement definitely is to the betterment of class A. Class C is captured by A’s resource advantage so C’s free will is compromised. And the nature of the reciprocity is such that the dependents of both B and C who suffer from this (C’s only if their best interest functions are not orthogonal) are the same people, so they suffer twice.

          These, so identified twice suffering people, are the children, for whom the best interest will soon be “paramount”.

      3. I forgot one other expense category “guardians ad litem”. “Agreeing” to bringing in a GAL is like landing on Pennsylvania Avenue with 4 houses when you really don’t need such an event. What they typically do is generate some paper that reflects the underlying threat, which is none, but someone ends up relieved that they passed the test. That “someone” is usually the one who pays for the GAL’s efforts.

        1. It’s pretty irrelevant who actual writes the check at this point anyway. In hindsight.

  38. If anything good comes of it, I’d have to credit Charles Murray’s analytical skills.

  39. If I could borrow your soap box one more time. What if this tragedy was just one instance of the same dynamic being played out in multiple theaters right now, they always talk about “The Great Divide” credit to Stiglitz, but they don’t often discuss how the sausage is actually made accept in a few pretty obvious cases with obvious villains wearing black hats. I myself and many others could could I’m sure give concrete examples right here and now without too much effort.

  40. The courts decide in favor of the woman far more than men – There are a few statistical studies that have been done that show just that. As for the courts deciding “In the Best interest of the child” The courts have no definition on what is “The best interest of the child” so it is up to the judge completely.

    As an example – Judge Robert Terry gave full physical and legal custody to my ex – I filed a motion for a psychiatric evaluation for her citing it was in the “Best interest of the children” Given that the court had given her sole custody – they should in fact make sure she was of sound mind – two years later none of my children were in school , my ex refused to communicate with the school and she had no education plan for the children – Would some one please tell me how this was in the best interest of the children ? –

    Will I have given you a personal example as to why we need mandatory shared parenting. If it is high conflict – Punish the parent who is not co-operating or making the situation more difficult.

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