There is overwhelming support for true shared parenting

To the Editor:
Is it too early to declare a tsunami of support for shared parenting? 

In a word: No!

National Parents Organization, in collaboration with NY Families for Tomorrow and NY Americans for Equal Shared Parenting, as well as The Fathers’ Rights Movement, just received the results of an independently conducted poll of the attitudes of New Yorker’s about shared parenting.

When viewed in context of the other recent polls conducted by Researchscape and Public Policy Polling — polls in Kansas (2019), Texas (2019), Virginia (2019), Kentucky (2018), Missouri (2018), Ohio (2018), Michigan (2017), and Maryland (2016), California, Wisconsin, Utah, Idaho, Florida, and Arkansas (2021) — the results are clear: There is a tsunami of support for shared parenting.

Let’s focus on the poll from New York that was conducted recently. Here are some highlights of the opinions of those in the Empire State:

— 92 percent believe that “it is in a child’s best interest to have as much time as possible with each parent” when the parents are divorced or separated;

— 88 percent believe that, when parents are separating, “it is generally more appropriate” for children to “have equal or near equal access to and time with each of their parents”;

— 92 percent say they “would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports children spending significant, up to equal, amounts of time with each parent following separation or divorce”;

— 91 percent hold that “children have the right to spend equal or nearly equal time with both parents who are fit and willing to be parents following divorce or separation”;

— 85 percent would support “a change in New York law that creates a rebuttable presumption that shared parenting is in the best interest of a child after parental separation”; and

— 77 percent believe that, when there is conflict between parents, awarding sole custody of children to just one parent increases that conflict.

And New York is no outlier. The other states in which there have been independent studies done of attitudes about shared parenting, children’s rights to have substantial time with each of their fit parents, and the desirability of legal presumptions of shared parenting, also show overwhelming support for true shared parenting, including roughly equal parenting time.

Over 40 years of research show that what is vital to children’s well-being is both parents being directly involved in the day-to-day activities that constitute parenting: preparing meals; ensuring that homework is done; getting the child to school, doctors’ appointments, and so forth. This requires that neither parent be consigned to an “every other weekend” role in the children’s lives.

Most research indicates that the benefits to children require that they spend at least 35 percent of their time in the care of each of their parents and the benefits rise as the division of their time approaches an equal split with both parents.

It is important to note that the support for the sharing of parental responsibilities when parents are living apart cuts across every demographic divide: race, age, education, religion, income, political affiliation, and gender.

Let’s call it what it is: a tsunami for true shared parenting!

Despite this overwhelming public support, state legislatures, under the influence of special interests, have stalled legislation that would create a rebuttable presumption that shared parenting is in children’s best interest.

It’s often said that, “if the people will lead, the leaders will follow.” And this is nowhere truer than in the area of divorce and custody reform. It is time for the tsunami of support for equal shared parenting to sweep the legislatures of New York and other states forward. 

Jason Houck

East Berne

Editor’s note: Jason Houck chairs the New York Affiliate of the National Parents Organization.

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