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August 17, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

This article is about as good as it gets on child support (St. Louis Public Radio, 8/15/18).  It’s a conversation with two St. Louis attorneys, Stephanie Lummus and  Michael-John Voss, both of whom do their best to defend non-custodial parents behind on their child support.  It should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand the everyday realities of those parents and the child support system.

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August 16, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The State of Arkansas has finally wised up (Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 8/11/18).

Nearly 10,000 people whose driver's licenses are suspended for failing to pay child support will get their licenses back if they reach agreement to resume payments under a new program this month.

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August 15, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

It looks like the State of New Hampshire is again going to pay out large sums of money due to its failure to contact a father when his daughter was in dire jeopardy (Union Leader, 8/14/18). Almost three years ago, Katlin Paquette murdered her daughter Sadee. She pled guilty to second-degree murder for which she’s serving a 21 – 42 year sentence.

Sadee’s father, Christopher Willott has sued the state due to its Division of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) ignoring the danger Paquette posed to the child and its own protocols, all of which allegedly resulted in the 21-month-old’s death.

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National Parents Organization of Virginia Chair Christian Paasch has an op-ed in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. This op-ed connects the child separation issues at the US-Mexico border with the separation of families that occurs every day in our family courts. 

Christian writes: 

A growing uproar in this discussion highlights the inconvenient and uncomfortable truth that the policy of forced separation has existed and been applied to American children for decades in our family courts. Obviously in certain circumstances, whether at the border or in families across the country, there may be instances where children should be separated from parents for their own safety, but those are in the minority of cases and are not what we are talking about here.
Read the article here.

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August 13, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

August is Child Support Awareness Month, so let’s all be aware of child support, shall we? Yes, let’s. Now, to be aware of child support, one might read this article or one similar (This Week News, 8/11/18). After all, it’s Child Support Awareness Month, so there are plenty of articles on the subject. But if you do, don’t figure you know all there is on the subject. You don’t. Indeed, the linked-to piece and the others tend to avoid mentioning many salient (and often uncomfortable) facts about child support.

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August 12, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Proceeding with Trinder, et al’s 2013 study of British family courts and their approach to applications by non-resident parents (86% were fathers) for enforcement of contact orders.  Transparently, it was the authors’ goal to find that courts were doing an acceptable job and that little or no changes need be made.  That’s made all the clearer by the fact that the authors failed to notice the clear implications of their own findings.

Most notably, in the 205 cases studied, not one judge either ordered a change of custody or simply handed the child to the non-resident parent for a period of time to make up for the refusal by the resident parent to comply with the visitation order.  The authors break down the judges’ orders into five categories, none of which includes those methods of enforcement.

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August 10, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The study linked to in this blog is dated 2013. I write about it now because it’s emblematic of the pushback family court reform advocates receive from some quarters. It’s a British study and transparently an effort to convince readers that family courts are generally doing a fine job, ergo, no change is necessary. Here in the U.S., we get the same claim about shared parenting from family lawyers who sometimes stoop to say that we don’t need new laws because hey, courts are already ordering shared parenting without them. The fact that there’s no evidence for the proposition and plenty to rebut it hinders the anti-reform crowd not a whit.

Seeking to succeed where the Yanks have failed, the British study is an effort to manufacture evidence where otherwise there is none. It’s fails miserably.

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August 8, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The Trump administration is urging Congress to “overhaul” child support enforcement practices (Washington Examiner, 8/7/18). The linked-to article is short on specifics, but, from what I can gather, the White House looks like it intends to address some problems, just not those that need addressing.
The White House has called for an overhaul of federal child support enforcement to shift more responsibility for children's welfare from the government to parents, part of the administration’s larger welfare reform agenda.
In a previously unreported report to congressional Republicans, White House officials recommended requiring parents to cooperate with child support enforcement in order to be eligible for government benefits, including for programs that do not currently have such requirements, such as food stamps and housing aid.

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August 6, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

There’s a lot to this article (Good Men Project, 7/28/18). Much of the anguish fathers feel on losing huge swaths of time with their children following divorce comes through loudly and clearly. Those raw emotions are there in every line.

But there’s more, and that’s what I want to focus on.

The writer, John McElhenney first learned that his wife was leaving him after she’d already consulted a lawyer. Needless to say, things didn’t go well for John.

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August 5, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

I’ve written often about unsubstantiated claims of child abuse or neglect made to children’s welfare agencies around the country. By 2015, the Administration for Children and Families reported that, of about 3.2 million reports of suspected abuse or neglect received by state agencies, fewer than 700,000 were substantiated. About 80% were not.

And of course I’ve said time and again that, since CPS is an organ of state power, all of our constitutional rights apply to it and caseworkers’ actions. But I don’t think I’ve ever written about the use of the power of those agencies to anonymously harass parents.

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August 3, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The ever excellent Dianna Thompson is using her status as Executive Director of Family Reunion to go to bat for shared parenting (Family Reunion). Thompson has for many years been one of the staunchest proponents of family court reform. Put simply, she knows whereof she speaks. Everyone who cares about the impact family courts have on children should take heed.
Children are born with two parents. Children want, love and need both. No child should be separated from a parent or reduced to a mere visitor to a parent unless the court finds an important reason (e.g., child abuse).) And yet courts, out of mere expedience, allow judges to pick a winner and a loser in child custody arrangements.  By doing so, it only guarantees that the child will be the loser, because that child walked into court with two parents and walked out with only one.

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August 2, 2018 By Donald C. Hubin, Ph.D., Chair, Ohio Executive Committee and Member, National Board of Directors

Ohio has recently enacted into law the most extensive changes in its child support laws in over a quarter of a century. Ohio news media is filled with stories highlighting the changes. As the leader of the Ohio Chapter of NPO, a member of the 2005 Ohio Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee, and a member of the 2001 Ohio Child Support Shareholders Committee, I have had more than a passing interest in this legislation.

From the time the legislation was first introduced in the form of Senate Bill 125, and throughout the legislative review process, Ohio NPO has analyzed the legislation, pointed out both positive and negative features of it, and taken a stand on its passage. For details of NPO’s position on this legislation, see the links at the bottom of this post. Here, I want to highlight just a few of the changes to Ohio child support laws that are coming and why NPO gives the legislation a very mixed review.

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August 1, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Under the too-watchful eye of Governor Paul LePage, the Maine system of child protection has gone from one of the nation’s best to one that typifies the dysfunction of child welfare agencies generally (Bangor Daily News, 7/29/18). That appears to have come in response to the deaths of two children at the hands of their parents. As I said last time, tragic cases frequently result in ill-thought-out changes to CPS agencies and Maine is no exception.

Current policy de-emphasizes family reunification and makes temporary placement with children’s blood relatives more difficult. The result of all that is more kids being taken from families, more kids in foster care, higher caseworker turnover, too few foster parents and a reliance on the infinitely malleable term “best interests of the child.”

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July 30, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

If anyone thought that North Carolina was the only state failing to learn from the mistakes of Texas and Arizona regarding its child welfare policies, he/she should think again. Maine is, if anything, failing even more miserably than North Carolina, whose latest tribulations I wrote about here (Bangor Daily News, 7/29/18).

Like North Carolina, Maine has decided that the way to improve the lives of children at risk for abuse or neglect is to demand that child protection caseworkers do more with less. The reason for the change in policy is that caseworkers weren’t doing a very good job of keeping up with their caseloads, so the LePage Administration’s “fix” has been to place a greater burden on them.

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July 29, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

This is about as stark and hard-hitting an article on family court reform as I’ve read (Lincoln Journal Star, 7/26/18). It’s author, Dr. Les Veskrna pulls no punches.

Veskrna of course is the one who went to court to force the Administrator of Courts in Nebraska to divulge the materials used to train the state’s judges in matters of custody and parenting time. The documents were damning. Not only did judges receive claims that outright contradicted the overwhelming weight of known science on those matters, the skullduggery that preceded that training would have humiliated more scrupulous public figures.

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After 26 years, Ohio has passed a new law that will overhaul its child support system. In this article in the Toledo Blade, there is a summary of the changes to the law and interviews with those affected by these changes. 

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July 27, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Another state is going down the wrong road regarding its child welfare agency (Daily Advance, 7/15/18). This time it’s North Carolina and the wrong road it’s travelling is named “do more with insufficient resources.”

It seems that the legislature passed a bill last year that sets performance standards for the Division of Social Services that’s part of the Department of Health and Human Services. It’s appropriate to get nervous when lawmakers start micromanaging services like those provided by DSS. They don’t know what they’re doing and passing a law that’s equally applicable to every DSS unit in every county in the state is presumptively a bad idea. Face it, the law they passed isn’t flexible, but not all counties are alike.

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July 26, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Our old friend Attorney Richard Ducote is back in the news for a couple of reasons.  The first is that he’s once again lost a casein which his client was a woman who accused her male former partner of physical abuse (Deadspin, 1/25/18).  Sandra Brooks made elaborate claims about abuse by NFL referee Carl Johnson, but the judge in the case ruled she’d failed to prove her claims and dismissed her action.  The local police have now charged her.

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July 25, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

This is a fine article (Wall Street Journal, 7/20/18).  It’s not only good in its own right, but good in ways I suspect its author never imagined.  The writer, Abigail Shrier is intent on calling out the #MeToo movement and, more generally, a type of gender feminism that seeks to infantilize women by absolving them of responsibility for their own behavior.  Plus, she sticks up for masculinity.

About all that, Shrier does a pretty good job.  She tells about her father and her upbringing with him and her mother and, in the process, says a lot about masculinity and how valuable it is to society.  Good for her.

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July 23, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Jason Griffith points out an aspect of shared parenting that’s almost invariably overlooked, at least by me (Cincinnati.com, 7/19/18). Mea culpa; I should have been more thoughtful in my commentary. Griffith is the minority outreach director of Kentucky for the National Parents Organization. As readers will recall, back in April, the Kentucky Legislature overwhelmingly passed the first law in the English-speaking world that presumes equal parenting post-divorce. The governor signed the bill into law and it went into effect on July 14. The new law was an NPO initiative.

Readers well know the multiple benefits to children of shared parenting, but Griffith points out that those are especially pertinent to African-American children and their dads.

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July 22, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

I’m privileged to know Molly Olson. She’s a veteran of the legislative wars on behalf of shared parenting in Minnesota. Put simply, no one has fought longer or harder to do what’s right for kids there than Molly Olson.

So everyone should pay close attention when she speaks as she does in this op-ed (Twin Cities.com, 7/19/18). Olson measures her words; there’s no hyperbole in her piece. But beneath the calm surface of her article simmers frustration bordering on anger. She’s not screaming, but we get the feeling she’d like to.

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July 20, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

A new survey, conducted for the National Parents Organization in Missouri shows once again overwhelming support for equal parenting. The poll was conducted by the professional polling organization, Public Policy Polling. It asked a representative sample of 468 Missourians about a number of issues related to shared parenting. The results were unequivocal, a landslide in favor of shared parenting.

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July 19, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The National Parents Organization has had another success, this time in Massachusetts (Beacon Hill Patch, 7/13/18). NPO helped draft and pass House Bill 3090 that encourages judges to order shared parenting in divorce cases. The Bay State’s House of Representatives passed the bill that has now gone to the Senate Rules Committee for consideration.

If the Rules Committee and the Senate as a whole want to follow their constituents’ wishes, they’ll promptly approve HB 3090. In a non-binding referendum, a whopping 86% of Massachusetts voters said they approved of shared parenting following divorce. As in other states, that support crossed all the usual lines of race, class, sex and party affiliation. As a strictly political matter, it doesn’t get much clearer than that; the voters of Massachusetts want shared parenting. Will their elected officials take heed?

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July 18, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Way back in the 80s, I used to watch what was then “The McNeil-Lehrer News Hour.” It usually dealt with three issues, allocating about 20 minutes to each. The show always had guests with competing viewpoints on whatever the topic was. It was so invariable in that way that it moved some wag to write a humorous takeoff on it, something like “Jesus Christ - Son of God or Jewish Troublemaker? Tonight we have two views…”

This article reminded me of that old send-up of McNeil-Lehrer (Japan News, 7/15/18). It’s about the fact that the Japanese government seems to be considering revamping its child custody laws that desperately need it. Japan is explicitly a sole-custody country. Here’s how the article describes its approach to child custody post-divorce:

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