I read with interest the letter in The Sun of March 9 on shared parenting by members of the Merrimack Valley Legal Services.
First, let me state that people who have an economic interest, such as lawyers, in perpetuating an adversarial system should not be commenting. It is no different than the pharmaceutical companies flying doctors all over the place to use their drugs. Here the drug of choice is lawyers for maintaining an unfair legal system.
I totally agree to disagree with many points brought up by the two lawyers. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution provides for equal protection under the law. The "best interest of the child" standard is a subjective standard. This is admitted to by all lawyers and people within the court system. It is not a scientific standard.
Shared parenting would level the playing field. It takes away part of the adversarial aspect and makes it fair for both women and men. It is also in the best interest of the children since it can reduce conflict. In addition, studies have shown that where shared custody is the norm, the divorce rate drops. Intact marriages are the healthiest for children over all.
Under the present system in Massachusetts, 85 percent of contested custody cases are awarded to women. Under shared custody, whether there is equal custody or visitation, the kids shuttle back and forth. This is a fact of divorce. The shuttling does not change, what does change is that they spend more equitable time with both parents.
All custody arrangements require cooperation and co-parenting between the parents. Shared custody does not change the need for this cooperation just because the time is equitable.
Once again they bring in the domestic violence and fear argument. We have laws to deal with people who are violent. I do not believe in the herd mentality. We do not say do not hire women in the work place because some women get pregnant. According to the Health and Human Services, women abuse kids more than men (2003 study). We do not take away the rights of the majority, regardless, for the wrongs of a small minority.
They state that if problems exist, they can be addressed. First with the bias as is, it is virtually impossible to get a fair outcome. To address the unfairness costs legal fees of more than $250 an hour. Many dads and moms do not have the financial ability to pay for this redress.
Making shared parenting a presumption is in the best interest of kids. All studies show that kids do best when they have equal time with mom and dad. Equal rights is not just for women, it is for men and women. Men and women; voted for shared parenting this past election. Eighty-six percent of the electorate voted for it. Self-serving individuals, such as lawyers, have no business advocating against it.