Continuing an uptick in the number of bills before state legislations which would offer a rebuttable presumption of shared parenting (50/50 child custody or close to it), we are pleased to see that Massachusetts is considering a bill of its own – House Bill 1400 (<<< Click to review).
Though there are many high profile opponents of such a bill, such as the National Organization of Women and the Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the reality remains that their objections are devoid of any meaningful legitimacy.
Opponents want to have people believe that such a bill automatically requires judges in family court to order 50/50 child custody or shared parenting. Such a law would do no such thing. Reasonable people understand that there are some parents who are unwilling to maintain an active role in children’s lives. They understand that sometimes the logistical circumstances after divorce won’t allow for a reasonable 50/50 child custody or shared parenting situation to be achieved. Sometimes there are other extenuating, provable adverse circumstances that would lead a court to rule that a 50/50 child custody arrangement or shared parenting situation.
Whatever the court ultimately rules, they would still be able to continue to rule based upon individual case circumstances. However, the first order of business would be to consider whether it is reasonable and prudent to recommend that a 50/50 child custody order be put in place absent any meaningful reason not to. Further, if the judge rules that 50/50 child custody is not appropriate, it requires the judge to document in the ruling the basis for not approving such a child custody arrangement.
To contact your Massachusetts State Legislator to urge him/her to support HB 1400 for shared parenting, click here: Find Your Massachusetts Legislator by City and Town.
Despite the doomsayers, shared parenting works, folks. The reality is that in Massachusetts, the family court system still awards primary/sole physical custody to mothers over 80% of the time and relegates fathers to visitor status in their children’s lives. By default, such decisions are not in the best interests of the children at all. Children need both parents in their lives as much as is reasonable and prudent. Children need both parents in their lives as much as those parents are ready, willing, and able to be there for them. Shared parenting works absent meaningful reasons for it not to be the priority.
A rebuttable presumption of shared parenting by law will go a long way towards leveling the parenting field so that both parents can remain a meaningful part of their children’s lives even if the marriage fails.