Data for Equal-Shared Parenting

Data gathered for the importance of Equal Shared Parenting.

§             Compiled in 1992 For Kids’ Sake was a growing, non-profit group, organized out of frustration with the existing family court system, and its lack of true concern for the children of divorce and paternity cases, by Patrick and Lynn Kempen.

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§             The following was entered into evidence to the Wi, congressional hearings.

§              Compiled in 1992 For Kids’ Sake is a recently formed, rapidly growing, non-profit group, organized out of frustration with the existing family court system, and its lack of true concern for the children of divorce and paternity cases. We have been studying family court guidelines, rulings, and legislative proposals pertaining to the family court guidelines for a few years now, and see a desperate need for real changes.We are here to proclaim that the judicial system, with its sweeping discretion, is grossly failing Wisconsin’s children.The family court system, operating under the “best interest of the child standard”, has become a forum for tug-o-war, where the children are the financial and emotional trophy to be “won”. Consequently, thousands of children are unnecessarily deprived the opportunity to maintain a full relationship with each parent.Many legislators, and much of the public, are unaware of the magnitude of the problems arising from the discretionary decisions being made by the judiciary, operating under the “best interest of the child” standard of the current family court guidelines.PARENTING:In today’s troubled world, when children of divorce, or paternity cases, have two fit parents who want to remain significantly involved in their children’s lives, we should be delighted! Such children should be considered, very fortunate; however, they are generally not, as a result of family court discretion.In a deluded attempt to reduce conflict, the courts are overwhelmingly reducing one parent, usually the father, to the role of an occasional visitor/baby sitter; as if empowering one parent as the superior, supposedly will cease conflict. Yes, one parent will have the upper hand to finalize disputes, however, in reality, such arrangements actually increase conflict, as they merely cause the problems to fester.Part of the tragedy is that, in reality, these courts have neither the time, nor the expertise to determine which parent is the truly “better parent”. Yet the role of one parent is officially deemed to be of little significance, and their main parental role is only permitted to be financial. The frequent, and logical, result of this arrangement is that the “non-custodial parent” (typically the father) tends to have progressively decreasing involvement with the child, as time goes on, until that parent ends up being nothing but a paycheck and a periodic baby sitter.The following data outlines the clear predominance of sole custody awards, and some of the many resulting harmful effects. As the data reveals, this inflicts significant, harmful, long term effects on these children which could, and should, be prevented in thousands of cases, through the enactment of a presumption of equal-parenting laws.The courts, media, and legislature must start to understand that a child’s best interest is a whole lot more than financial. We need our elected officials to take a stand to stop this tragedy that is affecting our society as a whole. There needs to be legal recognition of both parents equal rights, equal value placed on their respective roles, and equal opportunity to develop in those roles.Mutual respect and cooperation between parents is best accomplished when both parties are acknowledged for their status as equals. The evidence reveals, the true “best interest of the child” in family court, is to take children out of their current position as financial and emotional trophies, and to presume that both parents, providing they are fit, should have maximum/equal opportunity to parent them. The courts need to stop declaring a “winner” and a “loser” with regard to child placement decisions. They need to take away the incentive, and the ability, for parents to battle over the children.Furthermore, children need the opportunity to benefit from, and internalize both parents methods, input, and morals. And this all requires significant parenting time. Each parent needs the autonomy to develop a personal style and method of child rearing, with minimal interference from the other parent or the state.We ask – who are judges, court commissioners, you, or I, to involuntarily deny a fit parent from an equal opportunity to care for, and nurture, their child?And more importantly who are we to deny that child that opportunity of equal access to that parent?When children have two fit, interested parents, they deserve the opportunity for a full/equal relationship with both parents. We are calling for the enactment a presumption of equal-parenting laws (eg. LRB1834, ready for introduction) to limit the discretion of the judiciary to cases that exhibit evidence of abuse or neglect. Opposing such a presumption, condones that children are of tokens to be fought over, and is truly child abuse at the hand of the legislature.Note: Take into serious consideration that attorneys, court commissioners, and others employed by the system, who object to a presumption of equal parenting opportunities, have a vested interest in the status quo. (i.e. their criticism is often voice out of concern for personal job security).

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EMOTIONAL/BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH SOLE CUSTODY

§             The continued involvement of the non-custodial parent in the child’s life appears crucial in preventing an intense sense of loss in the child… The importance of the relationship with the non-custodial parent may also have implications for the legal issues of custodial arrangements and visitation. The results of this study indicate that arrangements where both parents are equally involved with the child are optimal. When this type of arrangement is not possible, the child’s continued relationship with the non-custodial parent remains essential.
Source: Young Adult Children of Divorced Parents: Depression and the Perception of Loss, Rebecca L. Drill, P.h.D., Harvard University. Journal of Divorce, V.10, #1/2, Fall/Winter 1986.

§             “Parental divorce and father loss has been associated with difficulties in school adjustment (e.g. Felner, Ginter, Boike, & CowenJ), social adjustment (e.g. Fry & Grover) and personal adjustment (e.g. Covell & Turnbull)…” “The results of the present study suggest that father loss through divorce is associated with diminished self-concepts in children…at least for this sample from the midwestern United States.”
Source: Children’s Self Concepts: Are They Affected by Parental Divorce and Remarriage; Thomas S. Parish, Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 1987, V.2, #4, 559-562.

§             “It is ironic, and of some interest, that we have subjected joint custody to a level and intensity of scrutiny that was never directed towards the traditional post-divorce arrangement (sole legal and physical custody to the mother and two weekends each month of visiting to the father). Developmental and relationship theory should have alerted the mental health field to the potential immediate and long range consequences for the child of only seeing a parent for four days each month. And yet until recently, there was no particular challenge to this traditional post-divorce parenting arrangement, despite growing evidence that such post-divorce relationships were not sufficiently nurturing or stabilizing for many children and parents.”“There is some evidence that in our well-meaning efforts to save children in the immediate post-separation period from anxiety, confusion, and the normative divorce-engendered conflict, we have set the stage in the longer run for the more ominous symptoms of anger, depression, and a deep sense of loss by depriving the child of the opportunity to maintain a full relationship with each parent.”
Source: Examining Resistance to Joint Custody, Monograph by Joan Kelly, P.h.D. (associate of Judith Wallerstein, P.h.D.) From the 1991 Book Joint Custody and Shared Parenting, second edition, Guilford Press, 1991.

§             – Nunan compared 20 joint custody children (ages 7-11) with 20 age-matched children in sole maternal custody. All families were at least two years after separation or divorce. Joint custody children were found to have higher ego strengths, superego strengths and self-esteem than the single custody children. The joint custody children were also found to be less excitable and less impatient than their sole custody counterparts.
Source: S.A. Nunan, “Joint Custody vs. Single Custody Effects on Child Development”, Doctoral thesis 1980. California School of Professional Psychology, Berkeley, UMI No. 81-10142

§             – Welsh-Osga compared children intact families with joint custody and single custody families. Age range 4.5 to 10 years old. Children from joint custody were found to be more satisfied with the time spent with both parents. Parents in joint custody were found to be more involved with their children. (Joint custody parents found to be less overburdened by parenting responsibilities than sole custody parents).
Source: B. Welsh-Osga, “The Effects of Custody Arrangements on Children of Divorce.” Doctoral thesis, 1981. University of South Dakota, UMI No.82-6914.

§             – Cowan compared 20 joint custody and 20 sole (maternal) custody families. Children in joint custody were rated as better adjusted by their mothers compared with children of sole custody mothers. The children’s perceptions in sole custody situations correlated with the amount of time spent with their father! The more time children from sole maternal custody spent with their fathers, the more accepting BOTH parents were perceived to be, and the more well-adjusted were the children.
Source: D.B. Cowan, “Mother Custody vs. Joint Custody: Children’s Parental Relationship and Adjustment.” Doctoral Thesis, 1982. University of Washington. UMI No. 82-18213

§             – Pojman compared children in the age range 5 to 13 years old. Boys in joint custody were significantly better adjusted than boys in sole maternal custody. Comparing boys in all groups, boys in joint custody compared very similarly to boys from happy families.
Source: E.G. Pojman. “Emotional Adjustment of Boys in Sole and Joint Custody Compared with Adjustment of Boys in Happy and Unhappy Marriages.” Doctoral thesis 1982. California Graduate Institute. UMI No. ? Source of similar finding: V. Shiller. “Joint and Maternal Custody: The Outcome for Boys aged 6-11 and Their Parents.” Doctoral thesis 1984. University of Deleware. UMI No. 85-11219. Source of similar finding: J. Schaub, “Joint Custody After Divorce: Views and Attitudes of Mental Health Professionals and Writers.” Rutgers University,Doctoral Thesis, 1986. No. 86-14559

§             – 90 fathers were questioned regarding how unequal recognition of parental rights might encourage conflict. Joint legal custody was found to encourage parental cooperation and discourage self-interest. Sole custody in both custodial AND non-custodial status encouraged punishment-oriented persuasion strategies. Unequal custody power was perceived as inhibiting parental cooperation by BOTH parents.
Source: M.R. Patrician. “The Effects of Legal Child-Custody Status on Persuasion Strategy Choices and Communication Goals of Fathers.” Doctoral thesis 1984. University of San Francisco. UMI No. 85-14995.

§             -Self Esteem found higher in children of joint custody. Children in joint custody report significantly more positive experiences than children of sole maternal custody.
Source: S.A. Wolchik, S.L. Braver and I.N. Sandler. J. of Clinical Child Psychology. Vol. 14, p.5-10, 1985.

§             – Age range of children 5 to 12 years, studying early period of separation or divorce. Boys and girls in sole custody situation had more negative involvement with their parents than in joint custody situations. There was an increase reported in sibling rivalry reported for sole custody children when visiting their father (non-custodial parent). Girls in joint custody reported to have significantly higher self-esteem than girls in sole custody.
Source: E.B. Karp. Children’s Adjustment in Joint and Single Custody: An Empirical Study. Doctoral thesis 1982. California school of professional psychology, Berkeley. UMI No. 83-6977.

§             – Comparative study of children in mother sole custody, father sole custody, joint custody with mother primary, joint custody with father primary. Children in joint custody situations were found to be better adjusted than children in sole custody situations.
Source: J.A. Livingston. “Children After Divorce: A Psychosocial Analysis of the Effects of Custody on Self-esteem.” Doctoral thesis 1983. University of Vermont. UMI No. 83-26981.

§             Nationally, 19.1% of children from 3 to 17 years old, living only with their biological mother, and 23.6% of those living with their biological mother and stepfather, exhibit a significant emotional or behavioral problem. This compares to only 8.3% of children living with both biological parents.
Source: N. Zill and C. Schoenborn, “Developmental, Learning, and Emotional Problems: Health of our Nation’s Children”, National Center for Health Statistics, Advance Data, 190 (November 16, 1990).

§             Three out of four teenage suicides occur in households where a parent has been absent.
Source: Jean Bethke Elshtain, “Family Matters: The Plight of America’s Children”, The Christian Century (July 1993), pp. 14-21.

§             Fatherless children are at dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance, teenage pregnancy and criminality.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, “Survey on Child Health” (Washington, D.C., 1993).

§             Children who live apart from their fathers are 4.3 times more likely to smoke cigarettes as teenagers than children growing up with their fathers in the home:
Source: Warren R. Stanton, Tian P.S. Oci, and Phil A. Silva, “Sociodemographic Characteristics of Adolescent Smokers,” The International Journal of the Addictions (1994), pp.913-925.

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THE TRUTH ABOUT DOMESTIC ABUSE & CHILD ABUSE

§             47. 55.5% of murder victims of domestic violence are male
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, “Murder in Families” July 1994

§             “One woman is battered every 15 seconds” is based on research by Strass and Gelles which indicate assaults by husbands or boyfriends on 1.8 million women every year. What is not generally mentioned is that the study further concluded “One man is battered every 14 seconds”
Source: Research by Murray Strauss and Richard Gelles as reported in “Women Are Responsible Too”, Judith Shervin, Ph.D. and Jim Sniechowski, Ph.D., Los Angeles Times. June 21,1994.

§             “54% of all violence termed ‘severe’ was perpetrated by women.”
Source: Research by Murray Strauss and Richard Gelles as reported in “Women Are Responsible Too”, Judith Shervin, Ph.D. and Jim Sniechowski, Ph.D., Los Angeles Times. June 21, 1994.

§             “Since society does not define abuse of men by women as a problem, official police data reflects a much more frequent response to abuse of women by men than of men by women. Therefore it is not surprising to find over 90% of the calls to police or to hotlines coming from women, not men.”
Source: “Spouse Abuse: A Two-Way Street”, Warren Farrell, Ph.D., USAToday, June 29, 1994.

§             Data from the states’ protective service agencies indicate that children have much more to fear from their mothers than from their fathers, with mothers abusing their children at a rate approaching or exceeding twice that of fathers. In New Jersey, for instance 70% of the confirmed parental child abuse is committed by mothers, not fathers, 66% in Alaska, 67% in Virginia, 68& in Texas, and 62% in Minnesota.
Source: A study of child abuse in Lansing, MI. Joan Ditson and Sharon Shay in Child Abuse and Neglect, Volume 8, 1984.

§             Preschoolers living without their biological father were 40 times more likely to be a victim of child abuse as compared to like-aged children living with their father.
Source: Wilson and Daley in Child Abuse and neglect: Biosocial Dimensions, 1987)

§             Premarital pregnancy, out-of-wedlock childbearing, and absent fathers are the most common predictors of child abuse.
Source: Smith, Hanson, and Noble, Child Abuse: Commission and Ommission, 1980.

§             69% of victims of child sexual abuse came from homes where the biological father was absent.
Source: Gomes-Schwartz, Horowitz, and Cardarelli, Child Sexual Abuse Victims and Their Treatment, 1988.

§             Children are at particular risk. A 125 lb. woman is just as dangerous to a small child as is a 150 lb. man and the failure to admit that women can be violent has resulted in an increasingly tragic epidemic of child abuse.
Source: A study of child abuse in Lansing, MI. Joan Ditson and Sharon Shay in “Child Abuse and Neglect”, Volume 8, 1984.

§             Society’s failure to address abuse by women has some rather tragic results:

§                 The cycle of family violence will not end until we are willing to treat not only men who initiate violent acts, but the women also. No adequate treatment programs for abusive women exist.

§                 The man, generally being larger than the woman, is more likely to inflict physical injury when he responds to abuse from the woman, but the woman is more likely to overcome the size advantage by using a weapon.

Source: National Crime Survey, Census Bureau in “Spouse Abuse: A Two-Way Street”, Warren Farrell, Ph.D., USA Today. June 29, 1994/

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LOW ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE AND SOLE CUSTODY

§             “In Summary, 30% of the children in the present study experienced a marked decrease in their academic performance following parental separation, and this was evident three years later. Access to both parents seemed to be the most protective factor, in that it was associated with better academic adjustment… Moreover, data revealed that non-custodial parents (mostly fathers) were very influential in their children’s development….These data also support the interpretation that the more time a child spends with the non-custodial parent, the better the overall adjustment of the child.
Source: Factors Associated with Academic Achievement in Children Following Separation, L. Bisnaire, P.h.D.; P. Firestone, P.h.D.; D. Rynard, MA Sc American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 60(1), January, 1990.

§             Children in single-parent families tend to score lower on standardized tests and receive lower grades in school. Children in single-parent families are nearly twice as likely to drop out of high school as children from two parent families.
Source: J.B. Stedman, L.H. Salganik, and C.A. Celebuski, “Dropping Out: The Educational Vulnerability of At-Risk Youth,” Congressional Research Service Report No. 88-417 EPW Washington, D.C.: U.S. Congress, Library of Congress, 1988).

§             Students without fathers or with stepfathers were less likely to have peers who thought it important to behave well in school.
Source: Nicholas Zill and Christine Winquist Nord, “Running in Place: How American Families are Faring in a Changing Economy and An Individualistic Society” (Washington, D.C.: Child Trends, Inc., 1994).

§             Children who exhibited violent misbehavior in school were 11 times as likely not to live with their fathers.
Source: Jonathan L. Sheline, Betty J. Skipper, and W. Eugene Broadhead, “Risk Factors for Violent Behavior in Elementary School Boys: Have You Hugged Your Child Today?” American Journal of Public Health 84 (1994), pp. 661-663.

§             Nationally, 15.3% of children living with a never married mother and 10.7% of children living with a divorced mother have been expelled or suspended from school ,compared with only 4.4% of children living with both biological parents.
Source: Debra Dawson, “Family Structure and Children’s Well-Being: Data from the 1988 National Health Interview Survey,” Journal of Marriage and Family 53 (1991). 67. Children who were living with both biological parents were nearly two to four times less likely than other children to have been expelled or suspended from school (4%vs. 9-15%)
Source: L. Remez, “Children Who Don’t Live with Both Parents Face Behavioral Problems,” Family Planning Perspectives (January/February 1992).

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