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Like every state, Ohio has a “shared parenting” law. The problem is that this law was written and enacted over 20 years ago and has not been updated to account for changing times. Flaws in the original language have proven to be no better at fully engaging both parents in the lives of their children then the old law which placed the children in the custody and care of only one parent while reducing and limiting the time of the other.
It is time to rethink this area of law and place the decisions of the family in the hands of the family rather than a third party that knows little about what is best for the individual family as the current law has failed society as well as the children of this state by removing the father from the life of the child.
The State of Ohio admitted that custody awards are done 70% of the time in favor of the mother.
Legislative & Societal Goal: To maximize a child’s involvement and access to both parents in a divorce.
State of Ohio’s Interest: To protect the best interests of a child should harm to a child be proven.
Legal Presumption: Ohio has a legal presumption that equal custody is best for all children, yet this is ignored and a fit and active parent is regularly reduced in their time with their child.
Consistency: Consistency within the family courts of Ohio has long been a problem. The same sets of circumstances are often handled differently by judges for no reason. Differences in local rules add to this problem.
Benefits to Ohio’s Families
· Maximize the involvement of both parents with their children
· Reduce a child’s anxiety by lessening the disruptive impact of a divorce
· Establishes a stated baseline for custody unless the parents want to do something different.
· Eliminate the adversarial divorce by moving the custody of children to a mediated rather than a litigated court battle.
· Provide the Domestic Relations Court a uniform framework to address a child’s best interests
· Reduce False accusations that often clog the Courts and drive up court costs
· Increase a child’s familial ties with siblings, Grandparents, & Relatives
· Increase each parent’s active participation with their child in school, familial, and extra-curricular activities and events
· Significantly reduce all associated societal costs of single-parent homes by reducing teenage pregnancies, criminal and disruptive behavior, truancy, school suspensions, school expulsions, and time spent alone without adult supervision, drug and alcohol abuse,et al.
Benefits to the State and Counties:
· Significantly Reduce Court Caseloads & Judicial Resources. Lower court operational costs on multiple levels not just the “divorce” courts. Based on the latest court new filing statics, as many as 422,000 cases would be streamlined towards mediation with very little court involvement.
· Divorces will move with a more streamlined process that is more family friendly
· Lower burdens on businesses for lost time because of repeat court appearances, a friendlier environment that will attract business and raise tax revenue without raising taxes.
· Less funding to social programs and welfare. Based on figures from the Ohio Fatherhood Commission, fatherless homes cost the state of Ohio as much as $10 Billion per year.
· Better education of our children by having both parents involved Lower educational expenses on all levels.
· An expected 20% lower divorce rate in the near future that will strengthen families.
Key statistics since states went to shared parenting
· 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) – 5 times the average.
· 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average.
· 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (National Principals Association Report)
· 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes – 10 times the average.
· Daughters of single parents without a Father involved are 53% more likely to marry as teenagers, 711% more likely to have children as teenagers, 164% more likely to have a pre-marital birth and 92% more likely to get divorced themselves.
· 90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. [Census Bureau]
· 71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father. [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services press release, Friday, March 26, 1999]
· 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. [US D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census]
· 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. [Center for Disease Control]
· 70% of juveniles in state operated institutions have no father. [US Department of Justice, Special Report, Sept. 1988]
· Compared to living with both parents, living in a single-parent home doubles the risk that a child will suffer physical, emotional, or educational neglect.
· The overall rate of child abuse and neglect in single-parent households is 27.3 children per 1,000, whereas the rate of overall maltreatment in two-parent households is 15.5 per 1,000.
· 43 percent of first marriages dissolve within fifteen years; about 60 percent of divorcing couples have children; and approximately one million children each year experience the divorce of their parents.
· Fathers with joint custody pay 90.2% of all child support ordered. Those with visitation rights pay 79.1%. Those with no access/visitation pay only 44.5%
Bold Step Taken
We have been working with Kid Have Rights Too in Nebraska for some time and have written comprehensive changes to their “shared parenting” law that have been presented to the legislators. The efforts to get these bills introduced have been stopped by a group of attorneys that by all appearances have ties to National Parents Organization. Over the past 3 years this group has submitted 4 bills that have been redundant of current statutes in Nebraska, weakly worded changes or changes such are were done in LB437 that were flat out flawed beyond repair.
After thorough discussion the decision has been made to press ahead with placing this issue before the voters of Nebraska as a ballot initiative. On Tuesday April 21, 2015 the issue was submitted to the Elections Commission of Nebraska to begin the process of placing this issue on the ballot.
Ohio Family Rights is pleased to join Kids Have Rights Too as a co-sponsor on this initiative. We assisted in writing the language of the Objectives Statement that must appear with the submission and with the writing of the language of the proposed changes to the law that will now be voted on by the citizens of Nebraska.
This will be a long process that will take the work of many to complete. It will also take money. A long range plan to see this thru has been cooperatively established to deal with any foreseeable problems and objects that may arise.
It is time to rock the boat.