On Wednesday, October 10, I am going to be in Lansing attending the Capitols for Kids event hosted by Americans for Equal Shared Parenting and AFESP Michigan. I’d like to talk a little bit about why I support House Bill 4691, (Shared Parenting or 50/50 parenting). I believe the goal of family court is to preserve the family. I believe children need and deserve to have their mother, father, siblings, and extended family in their lives.
Fairness in family court:
Currently, custody determinations are made by a judge, rather than being based on Constitutional rights. Both parents deserve equal time with their children. In many cases a mother is given custody simply because she is the mom. This is not fair to fathers or children Additionally, family lawyers don’t work to resolve custody issues as there is money to be gained by dragging a custody dispute out. By making the baseline 50/50 parenting time, we eliminate the inequity in family court, lawyers fees, and courtroom resources. In order to remove shared custody a parent will have to provide clear and compelling evidence for why it should be removed.
Save taxpayer money:
According to Michigan Department of Health & Human Services 2015 report, our child support collection program costs taxpayers $234.4 million per year (67% is federally funded, 16.5% state funded, and 16.4% county funded). It costs $1 of taxpayer money to collect $5.76 of child support. How much could be saved by having 50/50 custody arrangements, eliminating the need for child support in many cases?
Undue burdens on parents:
The penalties child support providers pay for getting behind on child support are too high and do little to actually help the children. Approximately 67 percent of support cases are past due. Jail time or taking away a parent’s Driver’s License does more harm than good. How is a parent expected to work and provide child support if they can’t drive to work or are placed in jail? I believe having fairer courtrooms where parents have 50/50 custody will eliminate many of the issues in family court.
We need a new baseline:
Parents need to go into child-raising with the understanding that custody will be split 50/50 just like marital property is. A parent should not be profiting off of another parent because of having a child together.
Will shared parenting work? Deanna Kloostra, a Michigan divorce coach, questions whether or not this will change anything. She is not the only one that has expressed concerns to me. The main concerns I have heard are in regard to domestic abuse and child abuse. Some fear it will make a woman afraid to divorce her husband. Additionally, some think that the courts will just find a way around this, and others question whether it’s best for parents to share custody equally. I hope to post a follow up to this post in the future as the shared parenting bill will be hopefully be reintroduced in the Senate.