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.

parents@nationalparentsorganization.org

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:

News

​Man and the moon

by C.S. Hagen

VALLEY CITY – Lowell Busching shuffled into The Vault, pointed to the staff-less counter featuring self-serve sandwiches, Kuchen, and coffee before launching into a history of the building, once a bank. Books and magazines are…

You probably won’t be connecting an Ethernet cable to your smartphone anytime soon. But it’s usually worth running Ethernet cables to the devices that matter, if you can—gaming and media PCs (or consoles), backup devices, and…

Thursday, July 25, 6:30-8:30 p.m.Zandbroz, 420 N Broadway, FargoAuthor Sarah Coomber will be making an appearance at Zandbroz for a reading and signing of her recently released memoir, "The Same Moon." Recently wed and soon…

It’s no secret Theodore Roosevelt loved North Dakota. It’s also no secret North Dakotans love Teddy. He left us with a legendary legacy and it’s no wonder that the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library will be in the…

Gadfly

​Freedom???

by Ed Raymond

There Seems To Be A Lot Of Confusion About What Freedom Is!At a recent conference of the evangelical Christian’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, Chairman Ralph Reed, long a hard worker for the Moral Majority’s Jerry Falwell, had…

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…

By Teresa Farrelltara.Ekren@essentiahealth.orgLove it or hate it, it’s rhubarb season! Rhubarb brings back good memories for me.Growing up on the family farm, my siblings and I would head outside with a bowl of sugar, snap off…

High Plains Reader had the opportunity to catch up with Sarah Shook, front woman of the North Carolina based punk country band Sarah Shook and the Disarmers. We had a chance to talk about life and love from the road, where she…

Legendary British skipper Tracy Edwards, who in 1989 led the first all-female crew of sailors to compete in the tough-as-nails, 33,000-mile Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, makes for a convincing heroine in filmmaker Alex…

Arts

‘Local American epics’

by Sabrina Hornung

The US Postal Service recently released a set of stamps celebrating the New Deal era post office murals that were federally commissioned during the Roosevelt administration, though the mural that graces the walls of the New…

The annual mainstage summer musical, produced by Trollwood Performing Arts School and sponsored by Bell Bank, opens Thursday, July 11. This year’s performance is Disney’s “Freaky Friday.” Trollwood Performing Arts…

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…

If you’re from the region you may have sipped, sampled or caught word of a libation often referred to as “red eye” or “wedding whiskey” at some point. In fact some of our friends of German Russia descent swear by it. If…

Wellness

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…

Woman is born free and lives equal to man in her rights…The purpose of any political association is the conservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of woman and man; these rights are liberty, property, security, and…