Sign the Petition to

United States Supreme Court to Enact Federal Parenting Plan Legislation

Parenting plan legislation requires or permits the parties to a custody dispute to detail how they plan to allocate decision-making and care-giving responsibilities between themselves. In a very small number of states, they are mandatory. In most states that have adopted this kind of legislation, however, they are voluntary.

Several states have enacted parenting plan legislation.

Recognizing that the adversarial approach to allocating parental rights and responsibilities is a burden on the courts, unhealthy for parents, and detrimental to children’s psychological interests and well-being, some states are beginning to explore alternative methods of dealing with custody issues.

Parenting plans

The three main purposes of parenting plan legislation are:
1. To shift the emphasis in custody cases from parental rights to parental responsibilities
2. Yo involve the parties more directly in their own custody determination and
3. To encourage and promote amicable resolutions of custody disputes without judicial intervention.

To the extent it requires the parties to answer specific questions about how particular responsibilities are to be allocated between them, parenting plan legislation at least partially achieves the first objective. On the other hand, it does not seem reasonable – or for that matter, necessary — to expect parents to lose interest in preserving and protecting their rights simply because they are also thinking about responsibilities.

Parenting plan legislation also partially achieves the second objective. It does not really take the power to decide custody away from judges and give it to parents, though. Even if the parents reach an agreement that they believe is in their children’s best interests, a court retains the power to reject the parties’ plan and impose its own if the one the parents devise is not close enough to the one the judge believes is ideal for them.

A serious question exists as to whether parenting plan legislation accomplishes the third objective, i.e., whether it really yields more amicable settlements without judicial intervention. Achievement of this goal requires an assumption that parents are always motivated by a desire to act in their children’s best interests. That assumption may not be realistic. For example, experience teaches that when child support is inversely correlated with the custody designation, as it is in many states, each party will be motivated by a desire to acquire that designation in order to be the one entitled to receive support instead of being the one required to pay.

Signed,

Childrens Rights Florida

How this will help

Nonadversarial Family Law Models

In most countries, including the United States, court processes are designed for adversaries. A competitive, zero-sum model is used: one party wins something; one...

Nonadversarial Family Law Models

In most countries, including the United States, court processes are designed for adversaries. A competitive, zero-sum model is used: one party wins something; one party loses what the other wins. 

When a couple submits a dispute over custody of their child to a court, it generally will be inclined to deal with it in the same way it deals with all conflicts that are submitted to a court for resolution: It will try to determine a winner and a loser; the winner will be awarded a prize; and the loser will have to pay. The "prize" in a custody case, of course, is a child. To win the prize, the parties will have to compete against each other in a contest to determine which of them is better for the child. In this model, each parent has an incentive to prove the other is a bad parent, or at least a comparatively inferior parent. Since the stakes are high, the parties may be expected to use every possible means at their disposal to do this, so they will bring up – or make up – every fault and shortcoming of the other parent that they possibly can. 

Unlike other kinds of court proceedings, in which very few, if any, aspects of the parties' personal lives are relevant, in a custody war virtually every aspect of the parties' lives – past, present and future – may be examined, and very often is. 

In a cruel inversion of 1 Corinthians 13:5 ("keep no record of past wrongs'), the adversary system often will reward the individual who has kept the most thorough record of past wrongs. If parents were not hostile toward each other before they entered into a custody proceeding, they almost certainly will be afterwards. And no matter how the decree is worded, the parties will believe that one of them has been officially declared the better parent, and one has been declared the worse parent. 

In many cases, the victorious parent may develop an unhealthy sense of entitlement, privilege and power. The defeated parent, meanwhile, may be expected to resent the other, and either will embark on a quest to right the perceived wrong the court and the other party have committed; or will remove himself completely from the situation. 

Either way, the child is assured of growing up feeling embattled, guilty, depressed, confused, betrayed, abandoned and angry.1 Recognizing that the adversarial approach to allocating parental rights and responsibilities is a burden on the courts, unhealthy for parents, and detrimental to children's psychological interests and well-being, some states are beginning to explore alternative methods of dealing with custody issues.2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - All content above is written by Tom James, an attorney practicing in the areas of trademark, copyright, and family law. For more information go to www.tomjameslaw.com

By accessing this Website you acknowledge that you have read and understand the Terms and Conditions of use, and you voluntarily agree to be bound by them. The History of Custody Law, is available in paperback and Kindle e-book formats at Amazon.com: Purchase The History of Custody Law

4 comments

to comment