There are two sides to every story, and two sides to each bill you consider in the legislature.
On the one hand, you have heard emotional testimony from fathers removed from their childrens' lives by court order. You have heard their stories of biased judges, activist judges, who disregard laws and constitutions and the principles of justice and fairness in order to further a sexist agenda. The testimony of fathers, crying out for the right, guaranteed under the federal constitution, to be parents to their children, was supported by expert testimony, as well as objective research, testifying to the importance of the father-child relationship. Mothers, sisters, grandmothers have appeared before you to add credence to the research and emotional appeals of the displaced fathers.
There seems little doubt that children need their fathers, and that their best interests indicate a need for a close, continuing contact between them.
On the other hand, you have also heard from those who profit from the court ordered separation of fathers and children. Agencies whose income depends on court referrals, counselors who's jobs might be lost if such separations were reduced. You've heard from profiteers of the domestic violence industry, whose anti-male agenda would leave you to believe that every single father is abusive and neglectful. They've told you that shared custody would prove dangerous to children. You've heard the argument that shared custody would increase the acrimony between parents, and therefore increase the courts' workload due to re-litigation. You've heard testimony from custodial mothers, and outright feminists, decrying the loss of child support payments if shared custody were enacted. All those arguments are also emotional, but contrary to the fathers' appeals, there is no objective research to support their arguments.
Your choice seems clear enough! Parents who want to be real parents to their children, and the well-established need of the children to enjoy the benefits of having two closely connected, concerned parents. And the financial and political desires of people and groups whose selfishness and greed have shown, for decades, to be detrimental to the health, safety, and psycho-social well being of the children.
The latter were represented by the Task Force on Family Law, which wrote the bill which HB 529 would amend. This committee was lopsided with divorce industry insiders and profiteers. Recall the testimony of one task force member, that only one week was spent debating shared custody, but FOUR MONTHS on the domestic violence provisions of the bill. The final draft of the bill was written by one such, and approved by a MINORITY of the task force, WITHOUT A QUORUM! Apparently, even in a group packed by like-minded profiteers, they feared opposition to their anti-male, anti-shared custody attitudes. In truly tyrannical fashion, they quashed an attempt to allow a minority report to be written and filed. In opposing HB 529, they laced their testimony with deceptive and misleading statements. Shared custody would be required in ALL cases. NOT TRUE! Shared custody would increase re-litigation. JUST THE OPPOSITE! Shared custody would endanger children. PROVABLY FALSE! Judges would be left with no discretion. FALSE! Shared custody would increase acrimony between parents. NOT SO! Shared custody would be disruptive to the children. HOW CAN RETAINING THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH BOTH PARENTS EQUALLY BE DISRUPTIVE? ISN'T "PARENTECTOMY" MORE DISRUPTIVE?
HB 529 would alter the Task Force Bill with just two additional phrasings. The first is the REBUTTABLE presumption that shared physical custody is in the best interests of the children. We think the research proves that point. Second, a requirement that judges/marital masters who do NOT order shared custody present their reasons for declining to do so in written findings of fact. If their reasons are valid, why should they fear the need to do so?
Here in New Hampshire, as in all other states, we practice a representative form of government. That is, we elect people to represent us in the legislature.
So, I remind you that in Massachusetts recently, a non-binding referendum resulted in 85 (+) % of voters registering their support of shared physical custody. That seems like a clear enough directive from the people you represent (assuming no difference would exist if such a vote were put to the people of NH) telling you that they want you to decide in favor of shared custody. Therefore, we urge you to vote HB 529 OUGHT TO PASS.
Paul M. Clements
DADD (Dads Against Divorce Discrimination) NH