The horns and trumpets are playing louder than ever before in continued celebration of the new shared parenting law in Kentucky, the nation’s first true shared parenting law.
National Parents Organization has released their Shared Parenting Report Card grades for each state, and Kentucky is the first state to ever receive an A. What makes the A even more remarkable is that we received a D- grade in the last report card back in 2014. Continuing with this great news is that we have new statistical data showing family court filings are down 11% and domestic violence claims are down 445 cases since the law’s inception.
The new law is gaining popularity by the day with Kentucky taking the lead in shared parenting, helping to provide for happy and healthy families here in the bluegrass state. I’ve had the greatest opportunity to keep the family structure alive with the help of the new shared parenting law. Parents can now be looked at as a loving parent, instead of being looked at as a second class citizen, which is what some parents are relegated to by the family court system when shared parenting is not granted to a fit and able caregiver. National Parents Organization recently conducted a poll in Kentucky with one of the questions, “Do you agree or disagree with the law that it is in the child’s best interest to have as much time as possible with both fit parents in instances of divorce?” And the response was an astounding 83% agreeing.
In today’s age of bold bipartisanship, the popularity of the law amongst our lawmakers can’t be ignored either. Our shared parenting law passed the Kentucky House by a vote of 81-2, and passed the Kentucky Senate unanimously. When you have an issue that is supported this strongly by the community and the lawmakers, it’s a win for the entire state.
I’ve always said that a true support system in parenting is when the logistical, emotional and financial burden of a child is shared. I truly believe that both parents have the absolute right and ability to build a career or business, and devote important time to health, relationships and self-care with the new shared parenting law. And the research proves it.
“The research on shared parenting is remarkably clear,” said Dr. Ryan Schroeder, former chair of the University of Louisville’s sociology department, who also testified on behalf of the law. “Children who go through a divorce fare much better when they have equal, or as close to equal as they can get, parenting time.”
While the lack of shared parenting can be devastating to the affected parent, the negative outcomes to the children are far worse. Children who are missing out on equal time with both parents are more susceptible to behavioral problems, bullying, drugs, alcohol abuse and depression. I’ve also seen children negatively affected by physical health and stress-related illnesses issues due to the absence of a loving parent in their life.
Coparenting and the quality of the children’s relationships with each parent should be everyone’s ultimate goal, but unfortunately that’s not always the case, and it just puts a burden on the children’s well-being. I believe that shared parenting should be the starting point in every custody case because it provides less conflict between parents. Both parents can then take on equal responsibilities and it discourages them from looking for angles to gain an edge in court. But more importantly, it gives the children what they deserve in having equal access to both of their parents. There should never be a winner or a loser in family court with the parents. Only the children should be declared the winner.
I’m asking everyone to continue to support and show that Kentucky’s shared parenting law is the best law ever because it truly is in the best interest of the child to have equal access to both of their parents.
Jason Griffith is the Kentucky Vice Chair for the National Parents Organization. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.