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The system drives noncustodial parents out of their kids’ lives

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If fatherlessness in America is such a problem why do courts remove loving fathers from the lives of children?


If it were up to some courts [none specifically mentioned], Mrs. Doubtfire would have been spun into a movie about a father trying to harass the mother or win her back. Not about a father trying to remain relevant and active in his children's lives.




Ruth Graham discusses one part of a much larger problem: a broken family law system (“Broke, but not deadbeat”). Graham’s focus on fathers who are poor is commendable. However, it misses the larger problem of one parent — usually the father — being driven out of the lives of his children because the laws, the courts, the lawyers, and the government all have a financial stake in extracting as much money as possible from the noncustodial parent, the best interests of the children be damned.

If both parents continued to be involved in their children’s lives, as numerous studies over several decades have shown to be best, it wouldn’t be nearly as lucrative for those other so-called stakeholders. The better solution, for parents who are rich, poor, or in between, is shared parenting, which should be a presumption, not a mandate, in every child custody action, even so-called preliminary rulings.

In 2004, 86 percent of Massachusetts voters supported a presumption of shared parenting in a nonbinding referendum, and yet the Legislature has ignored or blocked the issue year after year.

The solution: Take the profit out of the system, and stop urging parents to fight over sole custody. Even poor fathers are more likely to financially support their children if they are fully involved in their lives.

Paul Sawyer







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