LAWFARE: Organized Opposition to Shared Parenting
We all know the term warfare. It's legislative equivalent is lawfare, and it's not much different insofar as those who prevail subjugate the vanquished. If we as parents are to be successful in protecting relationships with our children we need to not only understand lawfare, but know how to engage in it effectively.
As efforts continue across the nation to pass Shared Parenting laws it's beneficial to look at some of those organizations who routinely refuse to support the core reform that lessens divorces' harmful effects: Shared Parenting.
Opposition comes primarily from several sources. In no particular order; domestic violence organizations, family law sections of state bar associations and various social services organizations and related agencies form the core of opposition.
Each of the entities mentioned in the preceding paragraph requires family conflict and relationship breakdown to insure their ongoing existence. And as importantly, insure ongoing income streams.
As shared parenting supporters work to move legislation it is important to be aware of the tactics opponents employ to assure little progress toward significant reform is made. An ongoing case study of how opponents work can be witnessed currently in the state of Nebraska.
A modest bill, LB22, has been introduced that would, in the absence of abuse, neglect or abandonment issues, require courts to maximize the time children spend with each parent. If any of the three factors mentioned are present the statutes dealing with these issues are invoked and the case proceeds according to existing and controlling law.
Opponents, particularly those who derive their living separating children from parents, are working overtime to see LB22 doesn't pass.
One tried and true tactic to defeat legislation is to assert it creates risk thereby introducing fear of consequences into the process. It doesn't really matter if the risk is real or imagined, it just needs to be introduced.
Another tactic is what we call "running to the extremes." This tactic involves using worst case examples to incite fear that the 'worst case' outcome will be common place if the proposal is enacted.
Delay is probably the most commonly deployed tactic. Most state legislatures do not meet for more than a few months each year. Opponents will work diligently to 'run out the clock' and see to it that bills are either not moved out of committees or voted on in the full assembly. Essentially the bills have been "killed" for another year.
As a corollary to the delay tactic, opponents of shared parenting often attempt to derail efforts by asking for more time to "study" the issue. In state after state, ACFC and its affiliated organizations have invited opponents and stakeholders to meet early on for discussion of the issues, only to be refused. When opponents see a bill is likely to pass, they then suddenly want to create a committee to study the issue.
Lastly, it's common practice to see the misrepresentation and cherry picking of data to defeat legislation beneficial to children and families.
In Nebraska all of these tactics are coming into play. Here are several actual documents from opponents of LB22. Check them out and identify the strategies being employed to deny good parents a full relationship with their children. Then send us your thoughts and comments. We'll publish them in an upcoming newsletter.
Nebraska Voices for Children Opposition
Nebraska Domestic Violence Council Statement