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The hidden half of domestic violence

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 Shared Parenting  Helps Children, & Reduce Divorce

     My latest column, "Tennessee Shared Parenting Bill Could Help
Children, Reduce Divorce" ran today in the Memphis Commercial Appeal,
Tennessee's principal newspaper. The column is pasted below and is
available at
      I will be on The Al Rantel Show tomorrow (Friday) evening at 7 PM
Pacific time on KABC AM 790 in Los Angeles.  We'll be discussing my
controversial column, "Shouldn't Men Have a Choice, Too?"
      Audio from other recent appearances in St. Louis, San Diego, Los
Angeles, and Calgary should be up on the site by the weekend.
      As I've mentioned numerous times, my address book was assaulted
and is still screwed up.  If you received this twice, or if you don't want to
receive it at all, please let me know.

Best Wishes,
Glenn Sacks
[link not yet available, but will be soon]

Tennessee Shared Parenting Bill Could Help Children, Reduce Divorce
By Glenn J. Sacks

When Angeliek Green sang lullabies to her baby girls, she caressed their
foreheads and told them "mommy will always be there for her little angels.

She was wrong.

"I cry every night over my children," she says. "Every time I see kids in
a park with their parents, or playing in a yard as I drive home from work,
the wound is opened all over again."

Fifteen years ago, under pressure because of finances and personal
problems, Green ceded custody of her two daughters to her ex-husband.
She says:

"I thought that as a noncustodial parent [NCP] I would still have the
right to be a part of their lives. It was the worst mistake of my life."

The last decade and a half has been a nightmare for Green as she has been
at the mercy of an ex-husband who has disappeared with the girls for years
at a time, and a vindictive stepmother who has successfully turned the
girls against their mother.

Green's anguish is experienced by hundreds of thousands of NCPs across
the country.  Their grievances include: blocked visitation and unenforced
visitation orders; "move away" spouses who use geography as a method of
driving NCPs out of their children's lives; acceptance by the courts of
false and/or uncorroborated accusations as a basis for denying custody or
even contact between parent and child; rigid, excessive, and often
punitive child support awards; a "win/lose" system which pits ex-spouses
against one another by designating a custodial and a noncustodial parent;
courts which in determining custody tilt heavily towards the parent who
initiates the divorce, thus encouraging each parent to "strike first";
burdensome legal costs; and judicial preference for mothers over fathers
as custodial parents.

The solution to the problem now lies before the Tennessee State
legislature. Tennessee HB2338 / SB2406, known as the "Shared Parenting
Bill," abolishes the concept of child custody and gives equal standing to
both parents in a divorce.  In the event that divorcing parents are unable
to agree on a shared parenting plan, the bill would instruct the courts to
"order a custody arrangement with the primary residential designation
alternating between parents" and would require that the residential
designation "reflect a substantially equal schedule" between the mother
and the father.  The legislation, sponsored by sponsored by state Rep.
Kathryn Bowers (D-Memphis) and state Sen. Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville),
allows judges to deviate from this equal arrangement only if one of the
parents has committed acts which render he or she unfit, such as child
abuse or domestic violence.

According to Dianna Thompson, Executive Director of the American
Coalition for Fathers and Children (ACFC), the bill "will ensure that
children continue to have an ongoing emotional, physical, and financial
relationship with both of their parents following a divorce or separation."
She says:

"Currently, we have a very adversarial court system, and destructive
custody battles are largely driven by the parents' fear that they will be
expelled from their children's lives.  By replacing winners and losers
with equals, the Shared Parenting legislation takes a lot of the anger and
conflict out of divorce."

Advocates of the bill emphasize that it will lower the divorce rate, since
parents won't be rewarded by the courts for being the first one to
terminate a struggling relationship. In addition, they say, it encourages
cooperation and even reconciliation because each parent knows that,
barring proof of abuse, they will not be able to drive the other parent
out of their children's lives. In fact, studies have shown that states
with egalitarian custody laws have lower divorce rates than "win/lose"
states like Tennessee. And because the bill leaves few legal issues for
parents to fight over, instead of spending thousands of dollars on court
and legal fees, divorcing parents can spend the money on their children.

Melanie Mays, a Memphis mother of two and a member of Child's Best
Interest, the nonprofit group which sponsored the legislation, believes
that Tennessee's children need the Shared Parenting Bill. She says:

"It's shameful what our current system is doing to our children.  I see
good, decent parents, usually fathers, being locked out of their
children's lives.  It's as if they are being thrown away.  I see children
who love and need both parents and can't understand why they can't see
the noncustodial parent. It's a horror, and it  needs to be changed."

Glenn Sacks Home:
Also in today's Memphis Commercial Appeal:

Editorial: Pursuing child support collection to the limit,1426,MCA_537_1006432,00.html



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