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American Coalition for
Fathers and Children

Shared Parenting - Children Need Both Parents

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Legislative Sessions Are Underway

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Dear Michael;

With the November elections fading in the rear view mirror the effects are beginning to be seen as both federal and state legislatures get underway. Most state 2011 legislative sessions have begun and those that haven't will be getting underway shortly. In this edition of the newsletter we want to highlight a couple of current actions and ask you to become involved.

There have been a number of bills for shared parenting, and related issues, introduced already and more are on the way. As you read about what is going on please be thinking about how you will participate. At the end of the email will be several suggestions. In no particular order:

Maryland: Judiciary committee member, Delegate Jill Carter, has been a great friend of Shared Parenting and last year introduced House Bill 925 calling for a presumption of equal physical placement and joint legal custody. She is reintroducing the bill this year (it will have a different bill number but the language will be substantively the same). It should be filed sometime next week. Last year we facilitated 4 panels before the committee to testify in favor of the bill.

New Jersey: Long time ACFC member and supporter John Dibiase has worked with Representative Altonbello to introduce several good bills related to Parental Alienation and exclusion of Veteran disability benefits as a marital asset subject to property division.

Minnesota: Last week Molly Olson of the Center for Parental Responsibility (CPR) was featured in this Minneapolis Star Tribune article. We are looking forward to introduction of a Shared Parenting Bill very soon, possibly this week. CPR is a long time affiliate of ACFC, Molly and her husband Michael have produced a number of shows on family law related issues which have aired for many years on Minnesota Public Access Television. ACFC hosts a number of the episodes on our website also. Click here to watch this invaluable content. Visit CPR here.

Illinois: Illinois Fathers is working with a number of state legislators and several bills will be introduced in the legislature over the next week or two. Bills are coming related to joint custody, visitation interference and child welfare. One bill in particular is the Steve Watkins Memorial Bill.

Steve Watkins was murdered by his ex-wife’s grandmother as he went to pick up his daughter for visitation. The story garnered national attention. The purpose of this bill is to set strong penalties in cases of visitation interference. You can read the bill here, the underlined parts of the bill are the new language. This bill has been through legislative drafting and will be filed when the bill number is assigned. The bill’s lead sponsors are two women and a man from the majority party.

Wisconsin: Steve Blake, leader of Dads of Wisconsin has reported this shared parenting bill by Rep. Don Pridemore. Steve is a tireless campaigner for Shared Parenting. Last year Steve and I spent some time with the leader of the Senate who provided lukewarm support for efforts to change Wisconsin law. As a result of the November elections the ‘old guard’ in Wisconsin was replaced and our issues (and legislation) are receiving a more favorable reception.

Iowa: In the Hawkeye state Iowa Fathers are working to influence the Child Support scheme. Iowa Fathers leader Bryan Iehl is requesting your active participation at the public hearings to change a system which places money ahead of parent child relationships. Visit Iowa Fathers website and show your support by attending an upcoming public hearing.

North Dakota: You’ll remember in 2006 we worked with our North Dakota affiliate on a binding ballot initiative for shared parenting that lost by six percentage points. This year our North Dakota friends took the legislative route in an attempt to pass Shared Parenting. The state Senate dispatched the bill very quickly, voting against parents and children, by a 43 -3 margin. Over 91,000 people voted in favor of the Shared Parenting Initiative in 2006, it appears the state Senate wanted to kill this bill before the public had much of an opportunity to learn about it and weigh in on the discussion. Look for another ballot initiative in North Dakota.

Virginia: Virginia’s Shared Parenting legislation, House Bill No. 1787 met a similarly quick fate in its committee where it was tabled. Tabling isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a bill, it simply means the bill will not be brought for a vote this year. The alternative is having the bill voted down outright which would preclude being able to revisit it again at a later time.

These are just a couple of the current activities underway around the nation. We expect additional legislation in a number of states soon including: Michigan, Tennessee, Oregon, California, Texas, Massachusetts, Arizona and Indiana. In many of these states placeholder bills have already been filed and substitute language is under discussion.

What do the above actions share in common? Each of these initiatives is being carried out by people dedicated to the proposition that children need both parents. The organizations listed above are also part of the ACFC family of affiliated organizations. Many of the represented groups and individuals listed participate regularly in our monthly affiliate leadership conference calls. On these calls we share information, ideas and best practices as we move our respective agenda’s forward.

Everyone needs to be involved. Here’s how you can help. Contact your state representatives and let them know they need to lend their support and votes to these bills. ACFC makes is easy for you to do that. On the homepage of our website in the right hand column there is a link where you can find your federal and state legislators simply by entering your zip code. This is a simple, first line step you can take.

If you want to become more deeply contact an affiliated organization and volunteer. If there isn’t a group in your area, start one. In America today over 90 million people have some component of their lives regulated by a family court order. Everyone you meet is either directly affected, or knows someone who has been affected, by the courts.

Finally, we are asking you to make a financial contribution to help underwrite these efforts. It requires financial resources to continue efforts to change these systems. Every year lawyers gladly pay dues to their professional associations to protect the profits that are generated from the destruction of your family. Please help us by making a contribution so we can continue to push back against those interests.

If 10% of the money people paid in legal fees while their families were being destroyed had been contributed to organizations working to reform family law these systems would have changed long ago. This form provides you the ability to make a one time or sustaining contribution.

As always, we appreciate your efforts and contributions while looking forward to continuing to work for positive change.

Sincerely,

Mike McCormick
ACFC

PS. Today, our colleagues at Save Services are holding a press conference at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC to discuss issues related to domestic violence and the upcoming reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. It’s time to end the barbaric and systemic practice of bringing false allegations of abuse for the purpose of gaining an advantage in a divorce or custody situation.