Archive for June 29th, 2008

Fatherhood Commission Speakers and Movements

June 29, 2008

Today, 6/28/08, in Honolulu, the Hawaii Fatherhood Conference hosted speakers Scot Cunningam of the National Fatherhood Initiative (www.fatherhood.org) and the President of the Children’s Rights Council, John Bauserman.

Cunningham is a dynamic speaker and a motivated father who’s mission is to bring Dads into the national spotlight as good people and responsible parents. Cunningham’s primary message and the theme of the Fatherhood Council was achieving balance between the workplace and family life. I’ll have more to write about him later because he has so many good resources for parents.

Bauserman, a lawyer based in Fairfax, Virginia, was the keynote speaker passionately delivered his message on Shared Parenting and Joint Custody. The topic has been presented in Hawaii Family legislatures for the past four years and has run into resistance from some very determined opponents who misunderstand its basic tenents.

Also, www.crckids.org, the national web site for the Children’s Rights Council, has an action alert out for people to contact their state representatives to support the joint custody resolutions, S. Con. Res. 59 and H. Con. Res. 241. These can be found on thomas.loc.gov.

In summary, Shared Parenting and Joint Custody is a presumption in divorce, that, notwithstanding any real domestic violence or other pathological behavior of either parent, the best interests of the children lies in giving them equal access to both parents. Thus, the CRC clarion call “The Best Parent is Both Parents.”

Our sole custody divorce system promotes winners and losers. One parent may win custody but the children are always the losers. Adversarial divorce proceedings ensure that any animosity between divorcing spouses will be exacerbated by the system. One parent gets primary custody. The noncustodial parent becomes a visitor in the children’s lives. This is guaranteed to increase conflict, increase depression and anxiety for all parties, and decrease the noncustodial parent’s obligation to provide child support.

Joint custody, although not a panacea, is the best alternative that can alleviate the majority of problems for the majority of people going through the emotionally draining process of divorce. It can help our children feel connected with the parents who they love. It can decrease animosity in and the adversarial nature of divorce and it will likely decrease divorces and domestic violence overall.

Bauserman has promised links on the CRC website coming soon that list the immediate and long-term benefits of Shared Parenting. I would also like to see a model statute and a form letter that we can send to our state congressional representatives, because, ultimately, this is state law that we have to change.

With his speech today, I feel that the Joint Custody initiative in Hawaii has gained the momentum it needs to become reality. Although it is too late for me, many families depend on this to keep together in the future.

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