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August 8, 2016

NPO Logo National Parents Organization improves the lives of children and strengthens society by protecting every child's right to the love and care of both parents after separation or divorce. We seek better lives for children through family court reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers.
NPO Victory: Shared Parenting is Now the Law in Missouri
By Ned Holstein, MD, MS  Founder and Chair of the Board, National Parents Organization
Three years ago, Linda Reutzel, Chair of the National Parents Organization chapter of Missouri, decided to take matters into her own hands. Her son had received the usual treatment in family court, and Linda was rarely able to see her own grandchild. So she decided to get the custody law changed.

Now, three years later, she can point with pride to the near-unanimous passage of a strong shared parenting law in Missouri, which was signed into law by Governor Jay Nixon a few weeks ago!

Linda writes,
“As a mother and grandmother, all I wanted to do was convince our legislature that Family Courts across this State are hurting children of divorce. And really, I found lots of sympathetic officials (you can tell by the almost unanimous vote), but not many who would stick their necks out against the MO Bar. Bar associations have a lot of power in State houses all across the country. But we continued to walk the halls of the Capitol and work on relationships with reps and their staff…. When our original bills were stuck in committee and I realized that we had no power to get them out, it was pretty depressing. It was depressing because I have personally met fathers that want more time with their children; these fathers feel kicked in the gut; they cannot understand why a judge would deny access to a willing parent. I know that law making can be messy and you have to play the game, but there are real families that are being destroyed by the decisions that a judge makes. I wish these judges could actually see all the chaos and hurt caused by making one parent a visitor in their own child's life.”
Linda has a few tips to offer those who are fighting for shared parenting in their states:
“It's also very important to talk with Floor Leaders, Senate Pro Temp, Speaker of the House and really anyone in a leadership role. Another key to pushing your issue is knowing your issue backwards and forwards. Shared Parenting is an issue that is easy to defend but you have to have the facts.“
Here are the highlights of the new law:
  1. It states that no court shall adopt any local rules, forms or default parenting plans.
  2. Written findings of facts and conclusions must be prepared so that all know exactly why certain decisions were made.
  3. Motions to see one’s children must be explained, made readily available and do not require legal counsel.
  4. The court shall not presume that a parent is more qualified solely based on his or her gender.
  5. The State Courts Administrator shall develop parenting plan guidelines that maximize to the highest degree the amount of time the child may spend with each parent.
These reforms were needed to bring accountability to Family Courts. Linda knows we will need to watch what the State Courts Administrator does, as well as the lawyers and judges, but everyone knows what the intent of this bill is -- to make shared parenting the norm for children of divorce in Missouri. Read more...

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A Giant Step Forward for Shared Parenting in Massachusetts!
By Ned Holstein, MD, MS  Founder and Chair of the Board, National Parents Organization
In a giant step forward for shared parenting, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed an excellent shared parenting bill known as An Act Relative to Child-Centered Family Law. No previous shared parenting bill in Massachusetts has ever gotten out of its assigned Committee, much less having been passed by a chamber of the Legislature.

This action confers legitimacy on shared parenting in a way never before achieved in Massachusetts. It means that the House side of the Judiciary Committee, the Committee on Third Reading, the Committee on Ways and Means, the House Leadership and the House as a whole has endorsed the concept that shared parenting is in the best interest of most children.

For instance, the House Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, Representative John V. Fernandes, wrote, “The current law may in words encourage the best interest of the child, but we disagree that the law in practice has achieved that goal.” This stunning statement demonstrates that our years of effort educating legislators, the media, thought leaders, and the general public about the importance of two parents in the lives of children are bearing fruit.

The bill which at various times was known as S834, H4107 and finally as H4544, was originally written by a Working Group convened by former Governor Deval Patrick. The Working Group consisted of representatives of three different bar associations, practicing attorneys, family court judges, the Commonwealth’s Child Advocate, experts on child development, advocates for the poor, domestic violence groups, women’s groups, representatives of the LGBTQ community and advocates for shared parenting, including me, Richard Fucillo, Peter Hill and David Calvo.

The bill had its public hearing in July, 2015. Our members turned out in droves to promote the bill, testifying to their personal sorrows and the harms done to their children under the present law. Only a handful of parties showed up to testify against the bill. Astoundingly, this included two of the very bar associations who had been represented on the Governor’s Working Group and whose representatives had signed off on the bill! This raises the question whether the bar associations are credible and honorable bodies, and whether their representations can ever be taken at face value again.

Because of the enormous pressure applied by the politically powerful bar associations, somehow a radically altered bill emerged, a version that gutted almost every key provision that National Parents Organization cared about. I sent out an alarm to our members in the early spring of 2016, and you responded superbly. The legislature was deluged with your calls and emails. As a direct result of your counter-pressure, the Judiciary Committee asked me and a few others to meet with them to discuss the bill further. We did so in a long series of meetings. In the end, we won back almost everything we had lost. Clearly, the intense pressure brought by our members, rather than any brilliance on our part, enabled us to win back so much. Read more...

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Help for Disabled Veterans
By Ned Holstein, MD, MS  Founder and Chair of the Board, National Parents Organization
How many times do we have to watch the family courts trample on the laws?

Many veterans with service-connected disability compensation benefits are asking this question. Federal law clearly states that such benefits cannot be counted as income for purposes of calculating child support orders. And yet, in state after state, we hear of family courts doing exactly that.

Greg Parsons of the Disabled Vet Child Support Info Group has written a brief that can be used to fight against this abuse. With his permission, you can find it here.

The portions printed in red need to be customized to your particular case, including the state in which you are litigating.

Our own Robert Franklin, Esq. tells me that the brief is competent and the legal citations useful, but takes no position on whether this brief is something you should use. He points out that it should not call itself an “affidavit,” that instead it is a brief. I am not a lawyer, and do not presume to give legal advice. So you will need to run it by a lawyer before filing it in your case. Still, Greg tells us that it has been successful in reversing improper child support orders in more than one state.

Let us know how it works out if you decide to use it after seeking legal advice.

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Mark Your Calendar Now for a Unique Opportunity in 2017!

One Trip to Boston, Two Great Conferences.

First, attend the International Conference on Shared Parenting 2017 (ICSP 2017) on May 29-31, 2017 at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in Boston.

Then attend AFCC 2017 at the Sheraton Boston Hotel immediately after the close of ICSP 2017 on May 31, 2017, a five minute walk from the Westin.

To receive updated program and registration information about ICSP 2017 as it develops, visit

Questions can be directed to [email protected]

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Establish an Affiliation in Your State

National Parents Organization is working to build a strong affiliate in every state. What will it take to bring National Parents Organization to your state? Leadership. It takes a team of volunteers to organize in your state and to reach out to legislators, media, and other groups who will work with us to make shared parenting the norm.

If you are ready, please contact Ned Holstein, National Interim Executive Director. Together we can build an affiliate in your state.

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Volunteer Testimonial

“Every child deserves a nurturing, loving environment and protection from hostile parenting and alienation. I have seen first-hand the effects of the emotional turmoil created by unfit parents. As a grand-parent, It is especially heart-breaking to see your child victimized by both an angry parent and then again by a misinformed family court system. I became involved with the National Parents Organization, because the focus is advocacy for the children”

Paula Cuesy
Paula Cuesy, Member,
California Executive Committee

The opinions expressed herein are those of our guest authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Parents Organization or its Board of Directors.
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