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Stop Government-Mandated Single Parent Childhood

As I’ve been sharing over the past several weeks, there is a dire need in South Carolina for an overhaul of outdated and irresponsible child custody laws, which doom children of divorce to single parent childhood. Since our state’s divorce rate is nearly 60% (largely thanks to ridiculously liberal no-fault divorce laws), we must take the necessary steps to protect innocent children from the fall-out of failing families.

That’s why this morning Dave Wilson and I, working to represent our organization Future Freedom Foundation and the “Common Cents” radio program, took our fight for comprehensive child custody reform back to Columbia. We’ve strongly supported comprehensive child custody reform presented by SC Representative Mike Pitts (R-Laurens), which would establish joint custody for mothers and fathers. This common sense proposal would ensure that children have active and involved moms and dads, which has an overwhelmingly positive affect on their social / psychological well-being. Representative Pitts’ put forth two bills, H. 4614, which establishes procedural joint custody (meaning both parents have to agree on educational decisions, religious instruction, medical procedures, etc) and H. 4095, which would establish physical joint custody. As expected, H. 4614 made it through the SC House of Representatives by an overwhelming margin, H. 4095, however, got caught-up in the special interest lobby of divorce attorneys.

That’s why we here at “Common Cents” and the Future Freedom Foundation have been working with members of the South Carolina Senate to have them add back the provisions of H. 4095 in their version. This must be accomplished in the SC Senate Judiciary Subcommittee, the members of which and their phone numbers are provided below. We need your help in encouraging the members of the subcommittee to add physical custody (from H. 4095) to the Senate version of Representative Pitts’ bill. If this occurs in the subcommittee, we’re confidant that we can win support in the full Senate Judiciary Committee, and then passage in the full Senate.

I can assure you that every single statistic I’ve read on the social and economic consequences of broken families bodes badly for our state and country. For example, nearly 33% of children from broken homes will be raised in single parent households that live at or below the poverty line. Not only is this a real human tragedy, it is an enormous economic cost to every single taxpayer in South Carolina. I urge concerned citizens of all stripes to unite for common sense child custody laws that protect children from government mandated single-parent childhood. In so doing, we will strengthen our state’s culture and economy.

SC Judiciary Subcommittee Members on Rep. Mike Pitts’ bill H. 4614

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11 Responses to "Stop Government-Mandated Single Parent Childhood"

  1. Supporter says:

    Awesome excellent job by you….THANK YOU!!

    To all readers……please go to scc4pc.org and sign up to get emails on info regarding these bills and this struggle. Then, make sure to call and email these legislators, and make sure you get yourself and anyone else you can get to Columbia for all hearings/votes on this legislation. Also, please forward this website and info on the link to all your family/friends, email lists, and facebook friends. The children and families of this state need you to stand up and be heard….NOW. Thank You

  2. I’ve been working on h-4095 and h-4614 since their inception. H-4095 was flawed, but had some promise. When it was changed by the house judiciary into H-4614, it became practically worthless. Basically, it’s nothing but lipstick on a pig. It’s a re-hash of the status quo, and doesn’t provide any meaningful change. Mother will still get custody in 90+ % of cases, and Dads will still pay child support at the highest possible rates. The lawyers will get rich litigating the conflicts that they are always litigating, and the judges will have a nice little retirement package when they finally cash out.

  3. JED says:

    In a normal family where both parents are fit, absolutely I believe in 50/50 custody should be the goal. However, certain things need to be considered.

    My son just went through a divorce and custody battle that took 2 very expensive years to complete after his wife had an affair with a convicted felon. My former daughter-in-law ended up serving 6 months in prison for multiple child law violations. An infant was hospitalized.

    My son finally has sole custody and his former wife has supervised visitations with a progressive parenting plan that will some day give her unsupervised standard (by current standards) visitation. The wife comes from a family of documented criminal history that wasn’t discovered until my son started investigating them for a divorce and custody. The maternal grandmother is now being scheduled for felony charges and she had tried to get custody too. My son has the children in a good supportive church and the children love the Lord. I would hate to see new legislation give the mother of these children an edge to come in and take the children to the imoral environment in which she lives and thinks is normal and cause harm to the children. In this case, it is not in the best interest for 50/50 custody.

    I watched my 2 small grandchildren start out in a 50/50 custody arrangement where they were spent no more then 2 week days in a row at one house then alternated weekends between the 2 homes. The poor 4 year old would always ask where she was going to be at the end of the day. The children were confused and one went through a period of self mutilation. There are a lot of things to consider when a judge orders any kind of custody.

    50/50 should be the starting point. Fathers more often than not get the short end of the stick in divorce. I think they deserve 50% custody if both parents are fit and safe. More than 50/50 I think the parents should have to be able to provide the children a stable home with consistency that will provide for a healthy spirit, mind, and body. Let’s don’t get carried away with 50/50 is the law of the land and forget the safety of the children.

    In a perfect world 50/50 would be great but then again, in a perfect world there would be no children out of wedlock and there would be no divorce…

  4. supporter says:

    to JED…
    Yes, you are exactly right. The wording should be….

    a rebuttable presumption of joint physical custody, no child support for fit and willing parents….with any deviation from this to be documented in the order as to why joint custody was not ordered.

    NO ONE in the shared parenting movement is looking to have joint custody for parents who are not FIT AND WILLING.

    Thank you very much for your comments!

  5. Frances says:

    Both HR-4614 (joint legal custody) and HR-4095 (joint physical custody) are misguided attempts to address an important issue – the impact of divorce on our children. The best answer is to minimize divorce. When that is not possible, the only solution is to consider the best interest of the child on an individual, case-by-case basis. The best interest of the child is the current standard for child custody and parental visitation decisions, and these decisions lie with the judiciary.

    Too often, our family court judges do not consider the child as an individual or the specific circumstances of a particular case in making these vital decisions. As evidence, consider the wide use of “Judge Brown’s Standard Visitation”. “Standard” is by definition not individualized. There is no consideration given in that document to the age, temperament, family history, or desires of the child. There is no consideration given to the circumstances of the divorce or anything about the parents or the home either would provide for the child. This is not in the best interest of the child.

    Another current characteristic of the decisions in family court cases is a focus on fairness or equality for the parents. This really has nothing to do with the best interest of the child, and yet so often carries the day in decisions about child custody and visitation.

    HR-4614 and HR-4095 will perpetuate, not fix, both of these problems. A law creating joint custody, even a rebuttable presumption of joint custody, encourages overworked family court judges to take a cookie cutter approach to custody. A standard or cookie cutter approach is by definition NOT in the best interest of the child because it does not consider the child himself or herself at all. How does the legislature know that joint custody, legal and/or physical, is in the best interest of a given child in a given family or circumstance? They don’t, and neither does the judiciary without the help of cooperating parents, a committed family court bar, guardians ad litem, mediators and counselors. This is where our focus must be to cause our family court system to better serve the innocent children involved in these cases. These resources are already established. The legislature can contribute to the process, not by making rushed and arbitrary laws about child custody, but by looking for ways to improve the function of the existing systems and possibly setting up oversight of their results.

    HR-4614 and HR-4095 will not serve the best interest of the children of divorce, but they do appeal to the uninformed because they appear to make things equitable between the parents. In other words, splitting the child down the middle makes things “fair” and comfortable for the parents. If the goal is easier, and therefore an increase in, divorce, it’s a great idea to make divorce and the resulting child custody considerations fair and comfortable for the parents. But we only have to remember Solomon to know that good parents should not be interested in splitting the baby. In many, perhaps most, circumstances, one home and one foundation with a good single parent, with involved, situation-driven and age-appropriate visitation with the other parent is what is best for a child. To term that arrangement a “single parent childhood” is disingenuous.

    I urge everyone to call the state senators listed above (and your representatives who likely voted for HR-4614 in the house) and request that they NOT pass either of these bills. Ask them instead to thoughtfully consider better ways the legislature could help protect those children of South Carolina caught in the heart-wrenching and difficult situation of their parents’ divorce in our family court system, and to work with the many good, caring people already involved and making progress in this effort.

    • jed says:

      Francis,

      You have an awesome point! Also, I think that the Fairness Doctrine that says judges have to give fathers equal consideration for custody should be upheld and mothers should not be presumed the more suitable custodial parent. Children deserve both parents when you have 2 parents who deserve the children.

      Thank you.

  6. Calvin Dilks says:

    I went through an exhaustive custody battle 2007-2010 (twice) with my ex-wife; my wife has physical custody with both having legal. A three year ordeal partially leading to Judge Segars/Andrews not be being reappointed; she recused herself three times returning same. The proposed bill has much good and plan to contact the listed judiciary members. Thanks

  7. supporter says:

    Wow Frances.
    Where do you get the information to back up “your” misguided opinions and statements? WE have TONS of studies and people testifying that a starting point of a rebuttable presumption IS what needs to happen based on so many opinions of children who were denied it and hated it, and children that had it and couldn’t imagine it any other way. Its time for people like you and the attorneys/judges/money-grabbing entities to shut up, so the good people of this country can save our children, families, and society.

  8. Frances says:

    My opinion is an educated one, thanks, and I agree that there are many studies on both sides of this issue. Still, legislation to create a rebuttable presumption of joint legal or physical custody as in H-4095 invites a cookie cutter approach to custody that will hurt children in the long run. The individual children and the specific circumstances must be considered. The framework to do that exists and, yes, needs improvement. There are good ideas for protecting children being put into place by concerned and conscientious people who work with these children every day. For example, I heard recently of an initiative being tried now in parts of the state that has some promise. As I understand it, custody, visitation, and other decisions related to the child’s welfare are separated from the rest of the divorce and settled first, so the children are out of the fray as soon as possible. They are not embroiled in their parents’ continued battles and can settle into new routines sooner and more smoothly. The approach involves the parents seriously participating in mediation at the outset, submitting parenting plans, and working with counselors and guardians ad litem to address issues affecting the children, apart from any other considerations.

    I don’t want to rub salt in anyone’s wound. Divorce is awful, and when it involves your precious children and is compounded by the powerlessness, indignity, unpredictability, and sometimes unfairness of family court, it can breed all kinds of strife and bitterness. But shared parenting does not require legislation or joint custody. “Fairness to fit parents” is not the standard, but that doesn’t require legislation or joint custody either. And when it comes to custody, visitation, and other issues dealing with children, the decisions need to be all about the children, one at a time.

© 2014 Josh Kimbrell. All rights reserved.