TOOL OF THE DAY: Equal Shared Parenting
CATEGORY: Family Law
What if your judge doesn’t believe in equal shared parenting? And what if the experts he relies on don’t either?
Your judge is probably going to believe any therapists, GALs or custody evaluators before they believe you. And they might have been influenced by columnists/family psychologists like John Rosemond or attorneys who advocate that equal shared parenting is bad for children.
John Rosemond who has been associated in the past with ParentalRights.org published an article in February 2015 that several papers published. His paper advocated AGAINST equal shared parenting. Articles like this posted by someone who has long-time been a columnist and has had their own radio show can mislead those in power.
Dr. Linda Nielsen then published a response to Rosemond’s article. She likes shared parenting but only writes that 35% parenting is required. While that may be so from a research perspective, this probably isn’t what you are going for in court.
So what can you do?
First, you can tell mental health professionals like Rosemond that your children do not belong to them or the state!
And even mental health professionals who are fine with shared parenting might still balk at you and discourage you from wanting equal time. While they might be helpful in getting a judge to feel better about your shared time with your children even when you aren’t getting along with the other parent, it is still a double-edged sword to rely on that solely, because you could end up with being told that 35% time is sufficient. And when you insist that this is not enough time, even the mental health professional who was supportive originally can get quite nasty when you challenge their determination of what is best for your child. Eventually they grow tired of your insisting that you have a right to equal time with your children and insist that you give up and give in to what they have decided is best. Some may even tell you that you clearly do not know what is best for your child! They make you feel like fighting for more time with your child is shameful. When really what they are doing to you and your child is the shameful act. And then they can inflame the judge and make the judge want to punish you.
Dr. Nielsen responds to Rosemond with research to support that shared parenting in fact is healthier for children than the loss of their relationship with the other parent.
Dr. Nielsen’s article is great for pointing out “that parents are often aided by mental health professionals and judges” to restrict children from the other fit and loving parent. But perhaps not so great if you are trying to convince your judge that you should have more than the standard visitation time in most states. Her article says that 35% parenting time is adequate for preventing the complete loss of a relationship; “…preventative medicine is shared parenting — allowing children to continue living with both parents at least 35 percent of the time.”
Dr. Nielsen also points out that shared parenting is still healthy for children even when parents do not get along or are “behaving badly.” And she recommends that rather than making decisions based on personal opinions that judge’s decisions should be “firmly grounded in research.”
It is correct parents do not need to get along to have shared parenting. In fact, it is unconstitutional to require parents to get along in order to each be protected to their individual and equal rights to their time and rights with their children that is not least restrictive and narrowly tailored.
Additionally, mental health practitioners do not have a say in child custody (from a constitutional perspective) unless the court has proven that the State’s parens patriae authority has been properly triggered. So unless Dr. Nielsen means that the judge’s research should be grounded in knowing the laws and how to interpret, apply, and enforce those laws. Then research from a mental health perspective serves no role other than perhaps making someone feel good or bad about a decision. So my question is when Dr. Nielsen says that “Shared parenting is not about parents’ rights,” then is she saying to leave out the law?
Mental health research isn’t the only type of research or data that judge’s use when carrying out their interpretation and enforcement of our laws. In fact, mental health research is secondary to the supreme law of the land. Our founding fathers intended no one to have the power to interfere with the rights protected by the constitution unless the court applies proper due process. And that due process protects parents from having to succumb to even mental health evaluators.
There are many things that mental health professionals would recommend to a parent as being better parenting choices, but just as a judge is not supposed to impose their personal opinion onto a parent just because they feel they can make a better decision, neither should a mental health professional. Even though their research might say that 35% parenting time is enough, the constitution dictates that this is not their call to make, it is not their authority to divide the time unequally until they have applied proper due process.
And lastly, Dr. Nielsen says that “shared parenting is not about parent’s rights. It is about making the best choices for children.” Precisely why parental rights are so important. When parent’s rights are protected equally, the children and their parents are more protected from judges, attorneys, and mental health professionals using their own personal beliefs and opinions to override the parents making the decision about what “the best choices for children” are.
We’ve all heard about too many chefs in the kitchen…it’s time we set the record straight and mental health professionals understand their role in the court when two parents have not been proven unfit with proper due process.
Our purpose is not to beat anyone up or any particular industry, only to put your rights and the application of the protection that the constitution provides for these rights into perspective even when there are mental health professionals involved who disagree.
This article is to help you understand and show that even the best intentioned mental health workers are not authorized to take over your inalienable parental rights or discount them. Parental rights are in place to protect children from having others take over their lives and to protect the decisions you make in your child’s life even if it is an unpopular decision. There is a very high bar for any stranger, regardless of whether they are an expert or not, before they can dictate to you the decisions you make for your child.
Mental health practitioners are entitled to their research and their opinions, but until they change the constitution, they are not entitled to take over the decisions you make for your children. It is up to each fit parent to determine what is best for their own children even if others are saying they don’t feel this is the best decision that could be made. (See our book, “NOT in the Child’s Best Interest” where we reference Justice Scalia in SCOTUS opinions stating this.)
We all know that if we all had to follow every mental health expert’s opinion that video games probably would never have existed and some of the risks that some parents choose to take with their children like letting a child experiment on a jungle gym or battle it out with a bully might be prohibited as well, etc. We would all be required to be raising our children based on studies and research and never allowed to decide against it. We’ve all seen the results of this in the medical field when parents disagree with a medical professional. Do we want this to happen with mental health too? We’ve already seen a glimpse of this bad result in the case where the father chose not to get his child a happy meal.
Parental rights protect children’s rights, and are in place to protect every individual from being dictated to by others who feel they know what is best for you and your child. In divorce and child custody battles mental health professionals have been running rampant in these cases. It’s time to shut the door on this too. Our children’s future is too precious to risk like this. I choose to stand up for parental rights because this protects our children from the harms that mental health professionals have been causing our children on a mass scale. A mental health professional’s role with fit parents is if the parents choose to seek their advise and expert opinions outside of the court to help guide, they can choose this on their own. They should not be getting ordered to do this or forced to follow these opinions.
Parents, you don’t get to cherry pick this and say well since the mental health professionals have seen the light or their research is supporting parents shared parenting so its okay to let them make these decisions now. Even if the mental health profession is beginning to side with equal shared parenting as being best for children — that should still remain separate and independent from the law of the land. I’ve seen different researchers come up with different results and different conclusions over time. The results can change with the person conducting the research. Our rights and our children are too precious to give up or to take a chance with like this. If you make it a battle of the researchers, you lose the leverage and protection of your rights.
Fit parents have inalienable and fundamental rights. Parent’s hold their children’s rights in trust. Fit parents have a right to determine what is best for their child. Fit parents and their children are entitled to proper due process before the court can involve or interfere in that child’s life. The mental health practitioners do not have to like this, but judges have to follow the law — and the supreme law of the land is first. This is what protects your children.
BOTTOMLINE: It’s not the court’s, the mental health professionals, attorneys, or the other parent’s decision whether you get to keep your equal time unless they prove they have the authority, or you forfeit it.
You can find Dr. Linda Nielsen’s article here: Shared Parenting: Preventative Medicine for Kids.
Below is one example of how one organization, LW4SP, took action against the idea that shared parenting is bad for children published by John Rosemond:
Organizations like LW4SP immediately got busy with setting the record straight. And over the last couple of days LW4SP has been submitting letters to all of the media outlets who published Rosemond’s article.
Several of these papers have responded and agreed to run a response article from Linda Nielsen. You can find Linda’s response article here: http://journalstar.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/column-shared-parenting-preventative-medicine-for-kids/article_3e650996-5d98-5089-a55e-705e497b634b.html
There are still several papers who have not agreed yet, and LW4SP has asked that we submit a letter to them and ask that they run Linda’s article.
Here is the update on what papers have agreed and who still need to be worked on:
“We received permission from the Lincoln Journal Star to re-publish Dr. Nielsen’s research based rebuttal to John Rosemond’s opinion.
The Bradenton Herald will Publish Dr. Nielsen’s piece, in rebuttal to John Rosemond, this coming Tuesday.
The Columbia Tribune will run Dr. Nielsen’s piece on March 3rd.
The link to Mr. Rosemond’s piece in the Charlotte Observer no longer works (they may have pulled the piece) and we’re talking with the editor about running Dr. Nielsen’s piece.
You can still help by contacting the following papers:
Mr. Rosemond’s background can be found here:
Can you please politely contact these 7 papers and ask them to run Dr. Nielsen’s column. We’ve got a real opportunity here to change how the press treats shared parenting.
Here is what LW4SP already wrote to each of them:
I recently read the article you published by John Rosemond stating his opinion that Equal Custody was not in children’s best interest. I wanted to inquire if you’d give equal time to the response to his article, written by Dr. Linda Nielsen.
I do believe the public should hear Dr. Nielsen’s research based facts in response to Mr. Rosemond’s opinion. I hope you’ll give due consideration to equal time in your paper. Thank you.