Research supports Massachusetts shared parenting legislation
Nielsen Linda 07.10.2015 Zeitungsartikel
Are parents putting their own selfish needs ahead of their childrens best interests when they share the physical custody of their children? Are custody laws that encourage parenting plans where the children live at least 35% of the time with each parent putting parents rights ahead of the childrens well-being? And are there enough compelling research studies to help us answer these three questions – allowing us to put aside our own personal opinions and possible biases?
Fortunately, the answer to the latter is yes. Based on more than 40 studies, there is now a consensus among two separate groups of international experts that the vast majority of children benefit most from shared parenting after their parents separate. The 43 peer-reviewed studies published in academic journals showed compared children in shared parenting families where they continued to live with each parent at least 35% of the time to children who live primarily or exclusively with one parent while continuing to see their non-residential parent. The results are clear and unambiguous. The children in shared parenting families have better outcomes.
Massachusetts children stand to experience these better outcomes more often if the states shared parenting bill, SB834 and HB1207, becomes law. The bill, known as The Child-Centered Family Law, currently sits with the Joint Committee of the Judiciary, which includes Representative Carlos Gonzalez, D-Springfield, and Representative John Velis, D-Westfield, and I encourage local residents to ask Reps. Gonzalez and Velis to support the bill.
Did the parents in the shared parenting families in the studies have exceptionally communicative, friendly relationships with each other where they worked closely together as a co-parenting team? No. Did almost all of them mutually agree at the outset to share rather than to hoard parenting time without any nudging from mediators, lawyers or therapists? No. Do these 43 studies show these childrens lives are unstable, disrupted or stressful because they lived in two homes instead of one? No.
When their parents do not have a cooperative, communicative relationship with one another, are children any worse off living in two homes rather than one? No. For the past quarter century, in dozens of research studies, have most children told us that the every other weekend parenting plan is meeting their needs, making them feel stable and secure, and reducing the disruption in their lives? No. In fact, theyve told us quite the opposite.
Last year, 110 international experts on child development, early childhood attachment and divorce reached a groundbreaking consensus – shared parenting, including frequent overnighting with both parents for infants and toddlers, is in childrens best interests. Likewise a group of 31 social scientist and law professionals agreed that shared parenting was in the best interests of most parents.
Unfortunately, too many legislators, mental health professionals and family court professionals make custody recommendations or decisions that are based on their personal beliefs, gut feelings or personal experiences with the most extreme custody cases – not on empirical data. Indeed, many of these professionals have never read the available research. Just as some poorly informed doctors offer outdated or harmful advice about medical treatments, there are professionals who offer advice to judges and mental health practitioners that is not research-based. More troubling still, many of these speakers and writers convincingly present their opinions as if they were actually reporting empirical data – a disguise that is not only disingenuous but potentially harmful to children whose lives are affected by judges and mental health practitioners decisions regarding custody issues. In short, too many well-intentioned judges and practitioners have been misled into accepting advice that is not based on empirical evidence.
Sharing the physical custody of the children on a more equal basis is not about parents rights or about activist groups. It is about making the best choices for children – decisions that are firmly grounded in research – not on the personal opinions of parents, seminar speakers, mental health practitioners or professionals working in family courts.
Dr. Linda Nielsen is a professor of Adolescent and Educational Psychology at Wake Forest University. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zuletzt geändert am 28.10.2015 um 18:34