OLYMPIA, WA--(Marketwired - February 14, 2017) - With the deadline to schedule Washington State legislative committee hearings landing on Friday, Feb. 17, National Parents Organization urges state lawmakers to prioritize the best interests of children and schedule a House Judiciary Committee hearing on a proposal seeking to move shared parenting after divorce from the exception to the norm.
The bill, HB1554, embraces parental equality and shared parenting -- a flexible arrangement where children spend as close to equal time as possible with each parent after divorce or separation.
"This bill is vitally important to thousands of families in Washington State, and with that in mind, we urge House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Laurie Jinkins to waste no time in scheduling a committee hearing on the bill," said Branden Durst, Chair of National Parents Organization of Washington. "The statistics -- especially as it relates to our African American families -- tell a devastating tale of how children and fathers are impacted when dads are unnecessarily pushed out of children's lives. Every child in our state deserves the love and support of not just one, but both, of their parents -- and we can't afford to deprive them of that any longer."
The bill has received broad bipartisan support, and prior versions of the legislation were drafted by Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal when he served in the Washington House of Representatives.
While shared parenting remains unusual, a trend toward shared parenting has developed in recent years. A handful of states have benefited from laws supportive of the arrangement for several years. Plus, in the last year alone, Missouri acted on the research by passing a shared parenting bill into law, and shared parenting reform in Florida made it all the way to the Governor's desk. At the same time, research continues to show that shared parenting is in the best interest of children when their parents divorce or separate.
"Thank you to the multiple Washington State legislators sponsoring a bill seeking to move child custody laws in line with the overwhelming body of research showing that most children desperately want and need shared parenting after divorce or separation," Dr. Ned Holstein, Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization, said. "Too many families have suffered from the family courts' outdated preference for giving sole custody to one parent. I urge the House Judiciary Committee to act on this historic opportunity by immediately scheduling a committee hearing for this bill. Instead of setting up parents for a bitter and unnecessary custody battle, HB 1554 will allow families to heal from the pain of divorce and separation from a position of equality and co-parenting."
RECENT RESEARCH: SHARED PARENTING VERSUS SINGLE PARENTING
Shared Parenting Data
- The Journal of the American Psychological Association published a paper titled "Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report" in 2014, and the conclusions were endorsed by 110 eminent authorities around the world. Authored by Dr. Richard Warshak at the University of Texas, the paper concluded, "... shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children."
- In 2016, Dr. Warshak wrote, "Two years after its publication, the conclusions and recommendations of the Warshak consensus report remain supported by science." He also wrote, "The paper has been translated into at least eighteen languages and has informed legislative deliberations throughout the U.S. and parliamentary deliberations in several countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, Finland, Romania, Croatia, and Sweden. Two years after its publication, the consensus report continues to be one of the most downloaded papers from the journal's website." He added, "The list of endorsers and their stature and accomplishments reflect the field's general acceptance of the consensus report's findings as rooted in settled science from more than four decades of research directly relevant to this topic, including seminal studies by many of the endorsers."
- The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health published a 150,000-person study titled "Fifty moves a year: Is there an association between joint physical custody and psychosomatic problems in children?" in May 2015 that concluded shared parenting after divorce or separation is in the best interest of children's health because the arrangement lowers their stress levels.
- The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) published the recommendations of 32 family law experts in 2014, and the group concluded, "Children's best interests are furthered by parenting plans that provide for continuing and shared parenting relationships that are safe, secure, and developmentally responsive and that also avoid a template calling for a specific division of time imposed on all families."
Single Parenting Data
According to federal statistics from sources including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Census Bureau, children raised by single parents account for:
• 63% of teen suicides;
• 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions;
• 71% of high school drop-outs;
• 75% of children in chemical abuse centers;
• 85% of those in prison;
• 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders; and
• 90% of homeless and runaway children.
ABOUT NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
National Parents Organization, a charitable and educational 501 (c)(3) organization, seeks better lives for children through family law reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers after divorce or separation. The organization is focused on promoting shared parenting and preserving a child's strong bond with both parents, which is critically important to their emotional, mental, and physical health. In 2014, National Parents Organization released the Shared Parenting Report Card, the first study to rank the states on child custody laws. Visit the National Parents Organization website at www.nationalparentsorganization.org.