Tracker Pixel for Entry

Study: State’s parents back shared parenting; judges don’t

by HPR Contributor | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Last Word | September 20th, 2017

By Robert Franklin, Esq.

In North Dakota, a child’s chances of spending meaningful time with each parent following divorce have less to do with his parents than what county they divorce in.

For example, there’s a whopping 100% difference in joint custody between Grand Forks and Morton counties. Worse, courts are less than one-fourth as likely to order shared parenting as parents are to agree to it.

Those and other worrying facts have come to light in a study of court orders in child custody cases conducted by the organization Leading Women for Shared Parenting.

LW4SP asked the Administrative Office of the Court to provide raw data on child custody orders in North Dakota’s eight largest counties from 2011 to the present. These data paint a disturbing portrait of judges’ orders in child custody arrangements, that generally fail the all-important test of promoting children’s interests.

The extreme differences between court orders from county to county exist despite the Peace Garden State being one of the most demographically homogeneous states in the country. The LW4SP study shows that marriage rates and income and educational levels vary little from one county to the next in a state that’s over 92% white.

Parents have a much more favorable take on shared parenting than do judges. As of 2017, over 44% of child custody cases agreed to by the parents are for joint custody. By contrast, only 10.5% of cases decided by a judge order joint custody.

Stranger still, the trends are in opposite directions. In 2015, over 16% of court-ordered cases were for joint custody and about 34% of parents agreed to joint custody. That divergence began shortly after Measure 6, the 2014 ballot initiative that sought a presumption of shared parenting for the children of divorce.

What happened in the ensuing 2 years? On the parents’ side, it seems that the ballot initiative brought awareness of the many values of shared parenting to a wider audience who then began more equally sharing parenting time.

But why would a ballot initiative influence judges against shared parenting? We’ve long known about the opposition to shared parenting of the State Bar Association of North Dakota (SBAND). Indeed, SBAND apparently violated U.S. Supreme Court precedent and its members’ First Amendment rights by funding opposition to Measure 6. It has since been sued for doing so.

Perhaps judges are simply following SBAND’s lead in opposing shared parenting. After all, judges are lawyers too.

Why does SBAND oppose shared parenting? Decades of research demonstrate that children in shared parenting arrangements do significantly better on a broad range of measures than do kids in primary or sole care of one parent.

Family judges are supposed to act in children’s best interests, but LW4SP analysis shows them doing the opposite.

Family law sections of state bar associations invariably oppose bills to establish shared parenting primarily because shared parenting stands to reduce the earnings of family lawyers.

That’s because, with shared parenting, neither parent “wins” or “loses.” Each enters the divorce arena knowing he/she will emerge with their relationship with their child intact. That means less conflict and therefore less for lawyers to do. And that of course means lower fees.

One way in which SBAND could make amends for its wrongful opposition to shared parenting would be to sponsor training seminars for judges who hear child custody cases. That continuing education should consist of teaching the science that solidly supports shared parenting arrangements for kids.

SBAND has some $2 million in cash and liquid assets on its books. It should use some of that to begin educating judges on the value of shared parenting to children. Doing so would finally bring judges into line with divorcing parents and the science on shared parenting.

But the people of North Dakota needn’t rely on SBAND to improve their children’s post-divorce parenting time. North Dakotans can go to the polls and elect judges who act in children’s best interests by ordering shared parenting when both parents are fit and loving.

[Editor’s note: Robert Franklin serves on the board of directors of the National Parents Organization. He’s also an attorney.]

Recently in:

FARGO — In some places across the state the words Planned Parenthood are spoken as curse words, but the facts say differently: abortions are down, young women are finding information and assistance, and the poor can afford to plan…


​Healing Arts Revolution

by HPR Contributor

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comGraduating from Sister Rosalind Gefre Massage and Wellness Center, Amy Wasvick has spent 10 years practicing Healing Arts. Her areas of expertise include Essential Oil, Cupping, Swedish,…

Thursday, November 14, 6-7 p.m.The Plains Art Museum, 704 1st Ave.N, FargoAn evening of conversation with multimedia artist Brad Kahlhamer and sculptor Aaron Spangler. Kahlhamer works with a range of media from sculpture and…


Have a little respect

by HPR Contributor

By Waylon Hedegaardretiringwithcats@gmail.comDoes everyone find Facebook disturbing nowadays? Oh, I don’t mean the creepy way when after you search for a product, ads for that product are suddenly everywhere like bed bugs. Nor do…

President Donald J. Trump: ‘A Picasso of Pettiness, A Shakespeare of Shit’I am a fan of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, an immigrant from India. He is one of the many reasons I don’t bother going to “Christian” churches on Sunday…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

All About Food

​Out to lunch

by HPR Contributor

By Jill Finkelsonjsfinkelson99@gmail.comSchool lunch has been in the news lately. There have been stories from around the country about the mounting debt and how school’s have been dealing with it. Michaela Schell and Chris…

The Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra’s 2019-2020 season is already underway. The first concert of the season, which showcased Gustav Holst’s well-known and loved “The Planets” premiered to a sold-out audience. The first…

Fans of Robert Eggers’ brilliant feature debut “The Witch” have been waiting impatiently for “The Lighthouse,” and while the filmmaker decidedly avoids any kind of sophomore slide, the new movie will probably not attract…


​31 drawings in 31 days

by Sabrina Hornung

Each October a number of drawing challenges appear across social media. Think 31 drawings in 31 days. The original Inktober challenge was started in 2009 by artist Jake Parker to boost his drawing and inking skills. Since then…


​Razor Sharp Theatre

by HPR Contributor

By Scott Eckernotharrisonford@gmail.comTheatre is something that takes a lot of work from a lot of people. This is something that is easy to forget while watching a good play. Great theatre is immersive. The script, acting and…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

The famous 20th century Southern writer William Faulkner quipped, “Civilization begins with distillation.” Technically one brews beer instead of distilling it, but the sentiment still holds true. Fargo is no stranger to the…


Yoga on the Farm

by Ryan Janke

Every Thursday evening during the month of June, Mara Solberg is inviting people to come out and try Yoga on the Farm. It is a unique yoga experience that was born from an idea that was proposed to Solberg.“I’ve been with Red…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

By William Southworthwsouthwo@cord.eduThe United Kingdom has a new boss. Considered to by some to be a British counterpart to Trump, Boris Johnson is riding a wave of political discontent with a can-do attitude and bubbly stage…