Children are human beings, not belongings. Children need the love, caring, nurturing, and guidance of both their mother and father throughout their lives. “Awarding” custody of a child to either the mother or father in divorce creates an atmosphere of contempt and competition, but more importantly it deprives the child of the benefit of the day to day nurturing of either their mother or father.
The Boston-based National Parents Organization believes the state’s child custody law is outdated and does not fit the modern family. The overhaul bill would allow children to spend more time with the non-custodial parent, typically the father.
President of the National Parents Organization Ned Holstein told 22News, “It decreases hostility and bitterness between parents. It treats them more fairly. It encourages judges to favor a parent who is cooperating with the other parent.”
Opponents believe the bill is centered too much on the parents and does not put enough emphasis on the children. Women’s Bar Association Kim Doughterty said, “Parents who deserve custody will get custody if it’s in the best interest of the child.”
The bill would encourage family court judges to award at least one-third of the parenting time to each parent after the divorce. It would also give judges more power to punish parents who do not comply with time orders. One state lawmaker told 22News the state should slowly implement changes to the child custody law.
“You move things gradually. You don’t want to necessarily throw the family court into a tizzy,” said State Rep. Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk).
The bill must win approval from the legislature’s Judiciary Committee before it can reach the House floor for a vote. Much of the bill is inspired by a state working group established by former Governor Deval Patrick.