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[AKidsRight.Org] Equal Parenting / Iowa Joint Custory / Help Suzanne Shell / Local Meetings

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From: Webmaster (webmaster@AKidsRight.Org)
Date: Fri May 07 2004 - 11:59:06 EDT

This is a message from the AKidsRight.Org mailing list.  Unsubscribe instructions at bottom of message.
Good People & People of Faith,

This message includes info on:

1. Local Meetings (AKidsRight.Org) - Syracuse, NY
2. Help for Suzanne Shell - Child Abuse Reform advocate!
3. Joint Custody Iowa Bill - not good law?
4. 50/50 residency - not good science?
5. Our Goal - Protection of your right to Equal Parenting.

1. Local Meetings (AKidsRight.Org) - Syracuse, NY
The internet is nice, but there is no substitute for real meetings
between people, especially in a campaign for social action.  John
Murtari, Group Coordinator, has an office near Syracuse, NY and
welcomes those folks near that area to come in and talk about their
stories and the need/path for reform during the month of May.

If you can make it please contact John and he would be happy to setup
a convenient time. Anytime weekdays or weekends is fine!  Email at
jmurtari@AKidsRight.Org or call him (toll free) at 877-635-1968,x-211
during the day.

2. Help for Suzanne Shell - Child Abuse Reform advocate!
If your special concern is reform of Child Abuse laws, please consider
contacting Suzanne not only for more information, but also to give a
helping hand.  Several people from our group have met Suzanne, she is
a Grandmother and wonderful lady, but one who is firm in her desire to
see changes made.

She is also willing to make the personal sacrifice that is difficult
for many of us.  She lives in the Colorado Springs area.  We're sure
she would welcome your support!


> Many readers are aware that AFAC Director Suzanne Shell has been
> engaged in a long term project to video document child welfare
> abuses. One area which has been under her scrutiny has been Fremont
> County, Colorado.
> Suzanne has just been served with a contempt citation for the
> unauthorized practice of law. The assistant attorney regulation
> counsel has never contacted the two persons who he is alleging
> Suzanne gave legal advice to and drafted legal documents for. He
> never asked them if Suzanne offered legal advice or drafted legal
> documents for them. He has relied solely on the word of Fremont
> County attorney Rocco Meconi - who he knows harbors a personal
> vendetta against Suzanne.
> The link to this contempt citation is
> If you will also review the stipulation and order at the bottom of
> that same page, you will see that Ms. Shell was permitted to do the
> very acts that are being used to persecute her now.  AFAC will keep
> readers posted about ongoing events in this case

> Suzanne is the Director, American Family Advocacy Center
> Author: Profane Justice
> Email:

3. Joint Custody Iowa Bill - not good law?
Submitted by: "JOHN T BARTON" <>

> creates a PRESUMPTION of shared joint physical care has been passed
> by both houses and awaits the determination of Governor Vilsack.

> It reads in part: 

> "Section 598.41, subsection 5, Code 2003, is amended to read as
> follows: 5.  a.  If joint legal custody is awarded to both parents,
> the court may award joint physical care to both joint custodial
> parents upon the request of either parent.  If the court denies the
> request for joint physical care, the determination shall be
> accompanied by specific findings of fact and conclusions of law that
> the awarding of joint physical care is not in the best interest of
> the child."

> For complete text, and legislative history, see 

> Kevin H. Collins, President 
> 115 Third Street, S.E., Suite 500 
> PO Box 2107 
> Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52406-2107 
> (319) 365-9461   FAX (319) 365-8564 
> e-mail: 

> April 26, 2004 

> The Honorable Tom Vilsack 
> Governor of Iowa 
> State Capitol 
> 1007 East Grand Avenue 
> Des Moines, IA 50319 

> RE:  HF 22 Joint Physical Care 

> Dear Governor Vilsack: 

> On behalf of all Iowans, I respectfully urge you to veto HF 22 -
> Joint Physical Care.

> At its meeting on April 16, 2004, the Family Law Section of the Iowa
> State Bar Association considered the Act, formerly known as HF 22,
> which has been passed by both houses and awaits your determination.
> The Family Law Section voted unanimously, except for one member, to
> recommend a veto of this legislation.  The committee's view is that
> the Act creates a passive presumption of shared joint physical care
> and that passive presumption is not consistent with the standards of
> best interest of a child.

> The best interest of a child is essentially a legal question of
> "what does this child need and how can these parents contribute to
> this child's needs?"  By creating a presumption of joint physical
> care, there is an implied idea that a child is a calendar.  Physical
> care is in reality an award of the right to maintain a child's
> primary residence.  Certainly a child needs two parents after
> divorce.  Joint physical care does not assure that right in any
> particular regard.  Where parents are able to maintain two primary
> residences, consistent schedules, shift the quantity of time between
> homes as a child's needs, activities and stages of development
> require, shared physical care certainly is a good option for parents
> who have good communications.

> Shared physical care ought to be an option that the courts should
> approve if reached by agreement between the parents.  There was a
> concern under current judicial practice that judges were rejecting
> joint physical care even though the parents had agreed.  The Family
> Law Section believes that a parenting plan which provides for joint
> physical care ought to be approved by the court unless a court finds
> it contrary to the best interest of a child to order shared physical
> care.

> HF 22 created a passive presumption of joint physical care.  This
> does not allow the court to inquire appropriately into the best
> interests of a child and make a good determination based on a
> careful fact review.

> The Family Law Section and the ISBA urges a veto of this bill.

> You should be aware that the Family Law Section intends to take up a 
> careful review of parenting plans and the appropriateness of joint 
> physical care and, hopefully, make recommendations to the 2005 
> legislative session. 

> This legislation is not beneficial to Iowans and I urge your veto.

> Very truly yours, 

4. 50/50 parenting - not good science?
Submitted by:

>  Is 50 / 50 Residency the Right Target?
> It was bold, and possibly suicidal, for the Shared Parenting Council
> of Australia to make 50:50 residency its seminal target for family
> law reform.

> Organizations around the world call for "equal parenting," but there
> is scant agreement on its definition. What, exactly, is equal
> parenting? How do you measure, much less legislate, it; how do you
> know when you have it? Some use 50:50 residence for their definition
> and will settle for nothing less.

> There is clearly a need for some operational definition, the
> question is, what?

> For three decades, the laws of jurisdictions such as Pennsylvania,
> Australia, California, and the UK have strongly supported, if not
> equality, active involvement by both parents in the raising of their
> children. That is the stated target of their laws. But to this day,
> all these jurisdictions experience as high a rate of father
> elimination as jurisdictions with less family-friendly legislation
> such as Canada. Since judges can cite "best interests of the child"
> to do anything they please, fathers are still ordered such
> insignificant "visitation" without any protection of even that, that
> only half of child-father relationships survive the first two years
> of divorce.

> So those struggling to ensure that children have two parents 
> irrespective of marriage, now seek legislated, operational equal 
> parenting, not soft words and good intentions.

> That is the political story behind 50:50 time. It's the only thing
> believable. The question remains: what is equal parenting and how
> well does 50:50 residence assuring it? Are there other options that
> would create it just as readily, or better?

> The most obvious deficiency is that it is as arbitrary as sole
> custody. It presumes one size fits all, when not every family can
> manage 50:50 time for any number of reasons including employment and
> interest. But as a starting point to tailoring a couple's own,
> unique arrangements, it puts both on a the same playing field. So,
> were equal time presented as only an initial premise for further
> negotiations, or only as a fall-back, it might make more sense to
> more people.

> The second shortcoming is that it omits parental decisions. It
> hardly matters that your child spends half her time with you if you
> have no say in whether she goes to school or not, or whether his
> medical care comes from science or folk lore. Parenting is neither
> time nor money. It is active care, and that care does not always
> require the presence of the child. So another definition of equal
> parenting is functional equality.

> Early attempts to implement functional equality appeared as "joint
> legal custody." But these laws, too, used soft words such as
> "consult" and "joint" and "significant matters" without operational
> definition nor means of enforcement. It has proved another cover for
> sole custody.

> That doesn't mean we should give up on functional equality, just be
> better at its definition. For as long as we think equality is
> sameness and both parents doing all the same things, it will not
> work. Once we realize that equality is derived from our differences
> and providing different things (differentiated parenting roles that
> the parents themselves define), we may get somewhere.

> The final problem with unqualified 50:50 time is Joan Kelly's
> concern. Kelly has had an illustrious career as divorce counselor
> and researcher and, though I've never heard her use the word
> "equal," is an advocate of children having both parents.

> Yet she called presumed 50:50 residency, "irrational."

> Scratching below the surface, Kelly may not object to it as a
> principle so much as worry about its implementation. Infants should
> have 4 to 24 hours with each parent at a time, and not be separated
> from either for much longer. So if 50:50 is implemented as a weekly
> schedule, it may work well for a seven-year-old but be a disaster at
> six months.

> The opposite problem appears at adolescence. Even at age 12, they're
> not children any more. What matters to them is their peers more than
> their family, and that there be one place their friends can always 
> find them. While 50:50 time is a good measure for all ages pre-teen
> (so long as it is tailored to the child's age and temperament), it 
> can be damaging for many teenagers.

> The answer may lie in a presumption of 50:50 time whose
> implementation is left to the parents so they can tailor it to their
> children's changing needs, when and as they need to. Combined this
> with division -- or rotation -- of major parental functions, and we
> may have something. That is, leave what is in a child's best
> interests up to the child's parents, the same as we do for married
> parents. (At least, so far we do.)

> Assertions for equal parenting may only need some refinement and
> clarification to gain broader acceptance.

5. Our Goal - Protection of your right to Equal Parenting
"We only ask the same principles used to protect liberty, also protect
the bond between parents and children (probably an even more valued
freedom) - the presumption of equal parenting, real proof, and the
protection of a Jury."   http://www.AKidsRight.Org/goal.htm

Some thoughts we had as we read the above opinions:

* Fascination with the law - Don't get trapped up in legal arguments or
case law.  What makes something an "inalienable right" -- people who
believe in it and are willing to demonstrate that belief.  The
Constitutions and other laws flow from that.  Real 'rights' are not
created by the stroke of a pen.

* You are the parent of your child - the intervention of the other
parent or social services (child abuse allegations), does not change
that.  You are no different than other parents -- government doesn't
have a gratuitous right to interfere.

* Science - The worst trap of all.  Think of all the examples of parents
doing what is NOT in the best interest of their kids?  They feed them
too much, they smoke in the house, they are too lax, too strict, they
just don't care at times....  That is just life and growing up, both
as parents and children. A dynamic relationship, far from 'perfect.'

* The Barrier - Protecting our "right" means establishing a barrier that
puts the burden on government before they can "control."  Government
and society are welcome to offer help and social services and
education to parents -- we need that. But before you can "order" me
away from my children or make me a lesser parent, you need to win a
conviction in Criminal Court that I am a demonstrated serious threat
to their safety.

We didn't agree with the opinions you saw above (and perhaps many of
you do not), but why?  How do you articulate/defend your right to be
an equal parent no matter what your former spouse or Social Services
says?  We welcome your feedback for future messages!

Member                                   webmaster@AKidsRight.Org

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