Commentator Ned Holstein makes excellent points about the values of shared parenting agreements ("Joint custody should be the rule, not the exception," Oct. 8).
As a policy analyst in very progressive California, Mr. Holstein and I have differing viewpoints on some issues; however, shared parenting has been proven time and again to be the most effective and beneficial custody arrangement.
My particular focus regarding custody issues is on domestic violence — its prevalence, reduction and role in custody disputes.
Shared parenting (with adequate protections for victims of abuse) is the arrangement most likely to result in reduced conflict and to prevent future child abuse.
When adults are forced into a relationship in which one has inherent power over the other, serious and significant conflict often occurs. What's worse, the couple's children are put in the middle of a volatile situation and are often conduits for that discord.
A shared parenting standard — especially if it is used at the initial point of contact pending trial or settlement — removes the systemic imbalance between adults. When parents are no longer competing with a system that is supposed to determine who is more "just," they are freer to establish a positive co-parenting relationship.
Such a presumption of shared parenting also removes the financial incentive to withhold agreement in hopes that one might add another $100 a month in income.
I joined with National Parents Organization last year because I see it as a beacon of hope in a sea of immovable family law constituencies. Mr. Holstein's commentary shines a light on what is rapidly becoming a major social movement across the United States.
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