Friday, July 26, 2013

A Response to Arguments Against Shared Parenting

Attorney Bill Eddy offered these Thoughts on Shared Parenting Presumptions – Part I where argues against a shared parenting presumption. His arguments seemed rather poor to me and I entered this response. Since I don't know if this comment is going to be allowed (it hasn't posted yet), I repost it here, so it doesn't get lost:

"Thanks for this post and for raising these issues, which I am currently researching both for personal and scholarly interest. My understanding of them is very much in development. But, based on my understanding of these issues so far, I have these reactions. 
First, a shared parenting *presumption* does not *impose* relatively equal parenting time: that would be for a final judgment. 
But a presumption is just a presumption, and presumptions can be overridden for good reasons. 
My understanding is that now, in most states, there is at least a “de facto” presumption in favor of one parent having the child(ren) most of the time. I do not know if this is an official presumption anywhere (again, my knowledge here is limited) but at least in my state, ‘the system’ is set up that way: e.g., the child support system presumes that one parent will have the child(ren) most of the time.
To deviate from that system, in favor of a 50/50 shared parenting arrangement, is an uphill battle: at least that’s the experience of many parents. This battle results from a defacto presumption against shared parenting. 
How “burdensome” is it to override a 50-50 presumption? How burdensome is it to override a presumption in favor of a non-custodial parent having their child(ren) every other weekend and one night a week? 
How do these burdens compare? Which presumption, at least of these two options, is a better starting place? 
You write that you “have fought for and won 50-50% schedules”. Would that fight have been easier, and less expensive for the client, with a 50-50 presumption? 
You say “it would be a step backwards to now impose such a broad presumption.” But if there is a current presumption in place, would it be a step forward to *reject* it? 
Finally, a presumption of any kind doesn’t “take away” any need for flexible thinking or anything else. A presumption doesn’t have, or needn’t have, any of the bad consequences you suggest: it doesn’t preclude flexibility, doesn’t prevent change, doesn’t prevent the need for teamwork, or anything that you mention in the second half of your essay. 
There are complex issues here, and each case is different, but as a matter of policy, I don’t see good reasons here to recommend strongly against a presumption of relatively equal parenting time since, prima facie and all else being equal, that is the best outcome for all involved, the parents and child(ren).

Again, thank you for posting this. I look forward to your future posts on this issue, and hope to find your past posts."