Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Co-Parenting Issue

Co-Parenting: Nationwide Effort Would Force Parents to Share Responsibility


When Doug Richardson remarried, he waited nearly a decade before having a child. "We got married under the agreement we'd have no kids," says Richardson, 42, of Essexville, Mich. "But my wife is 10 years younger than myself. I didn't want to shortchange her because of my own experience."

That experience, which began when he was 19 and married his pregnant girlfriend, got even worse in 1991 when Richardson divorced her, and took a nightmarish journey through the court system. He ended up paying tens of thousands of dollars in child support and health insurance, and then never seeing his two children. "For the first 16 years I buried it so deep, along the lines of a rape victim," Richardson said. "It hit me when my child was born (to his second wife), about what was really taken from me."

Angry and bewildered fathers who want more rights after they divorce – to either right the wrongs of paternity fraud, or to be awarded equal or shared parenting with their children – have been fighting back through high-profile court cases, founding shared parenting organizations and lobbying extensively for new laws.

Shared parenting assumes that both parents will be awarded joint custody, unless other factors (proven abuse or domestic violence) weigh against it. "It is the case that there's a growing awareness of the injustices in the system," says Ronald K. Henry, co-founder of the Calvert Institute for Policy Research, and who has argued and written papers for decades arguing for shared parenting rights.

Keep reading here at d360

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