There have been recent news reports out of the State of Michigan about a shared parenting bill in the Michigan House of Representatives (HB 4691). The bill, according to press reports, “would make joint legal custody and equal parenting time the presumed starting point going into custody cases. With some exceptions, the change would require the court to grant joint legal custody and substantially equal parenting time.”
While there are differences between various state and provincial laws concerning shared parenting laws, these statutes create a presumption that parenting should be on a 50/50 time basis. The key term here is “presumption,” and the nonsensical opposition to shared parenting laws essentially ignores the meaning of this term.
A presumption essentially means that all other things being equal, the presumed best arrangement for custody is a 50/50 split. If the parties agree to something different, then that agreement would apply. If one parent was unwilling or unable to make lifestyle changes to accommodate the child(ren), then the court would have the ability to award a different custody split.
A shared parenting bill (C-560) was proposed and defeated in the Canadian federal parliament in 2014. One of the primary advocates – and one of the most prominent legal thinkers in the area of parental alienation – was Toronto attorney Brian Ludmer. For a succinct argument addressing both the affirmative reasons for shared parenting and the most common objections, go to his website. The National Parents Organization also supports shared parenting laws; its website is a good source of information concerning shared parenting.
The targeted parent community should support shared parenting laws. While these laws are not specifically aimed at combatting parental alienation, they create custody structures that can insulate against alienation. I applaud Michigan State Representative Runestad for his efforts to enact shared parenting in Michigan.