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Children of Divorce Deserve Full Access to Both Parents, Whenever Possible.

Personally, I can’t find anyone willing to reject that statement publicly.  It’s a fundamental truth.  We now have a wealth of evidence demonstrating children are better off, in most situations, when they have something near equal time with each parent.  So why are shared-parenting bills are being rejected throughout the country?

Do legislators believe mothers are more important to children than fathers?   For the most part, I don’t think so.  Politicians are, however, under quite a bit of pressure from some very powerful anti-shared parenting special interests.  Recently, we’ve seen these opponents contribute to shared-parenting bills failing to pass in South Dakota and Minnesota

Some would argue disappointments like those are clear signs that shared parenting legislation will not happen anytime soon.  The opposite is true.  The near victories in these states and others is an enormous indication politicians are beginning to understand the vast majority of American citizens believe children of divorce deserve  equal access to both parents, whenever possible.

In fact, South Dakota’s bill lost in a 21-13 Senate vote. That’s a swing of 5 senators. If merely 5 senators felt more pressure from South Dakotans than they did from special interests, South Dakota would have a shared parenting statute. We should commend the remaining politicians in South Dakota’s Senate for doing the right thing.

In Minnesota … well, Minnesota is a travesty. That bill passed, and on May 24, 2012 Governor Mark Dayton vetoed it. Governor Dayton claimed that both sides made “compelling arguments,” but because the “ramifications” of the legislation were “uncertain,” he decided to single-handedly overrule the will of his constituents and their representatives. Mr. Governor, unless you are ending slavery or beginning women’s suffrage, you will likely never have the benefit of “certainty” in your political career. Again, we should praise the Minnesotan politicians who voted for the bill.

Six people.  Six people stopped two states from enacting shared parenting. Six people do not indicate shared parenting is a distant hope – they indicate profoundly that it is an imminent inevitability.

Mike Haskell is a divorced dad, shared parenting supporter and practicing family law attorney in Grand Rapids, Michigan.   Posting of this article is not an endorsement for, or recommendation of, Haskell Law.

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I am hoping that it really is a sign that this bias toward mothers is coming to an end. Yes, children need their mothers. They also, absolutely and without exception need their fathers. The best interests of the children should always be considered. Always. (And yes, I'm extremely passionate about this.) Without evidence to the contrary, I will always support co-parenting as the best option for children of divorce/separation. We owe this to our kids.

February 14, 2013, 12:10 PM
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February 21, 2013, 9:36 AM
Shannon Rios MS LMFT

Indeed, children need both parents in their lives, if domestic violence is not an issue, of course. I strive to help as many parents become successful co-parents, in order to help as many children afflicted with divorced parents grow up and be successful and healthy contributors to society. I have written a highly acclaimed book, The 7 Fatal Mistakes Divorced and Separated Parents Make: Strategies for Raising Healthy Children of Divorce and Conflict (buy from amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Fatal-Mistakes-Divorced-Separated-Parents/dp/0615314953/ref=la_B00BH9MMY0_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361902128&sr=1-1) My book has a lot of tips in overcoming stressful divorce situations, including getting a parenting coordinator to help mediate decisions in the child's best interests. I hope your readers will read and understand how much fighting over custody really does affect their children.

February 26, 2013, 12:18 PM
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