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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Pro-Father Rhetoric and Proposals

Preserving the divorced father's role in the lives of his children is a worthy goal. But as with many issues, the loudest voices are not always the most persuasive.

David R. Usher, Legislative Analyst for the American Coalition for Fathers and Children, Missouri Coalition, has published a lengthy article touting a custody plan called "Time-Shift Shared Parenting." The basic idea is to avoid routine custody disputes by implementing a "time-shift" custody plan in all cases in which both parents are minimally fit. Under a time-shift plan, the parents would alternate as primary custodian at intervals of four-years or longer. Usher claims that the research supporting the efficacy of such a plan is too extensive for him to cite any of it.

Usher states that bills implementing such a plan have been unsuccessfully introduced in the Tennessee legislature, and that several courts have issued time-shift custody orders in Tennessee. He says that such plans were initially upheld on appeal, but that a later appellate decision now forbids them. I have not been able to identify these opinions.

Obviously, any proposal that could reduce "I'm good, you're bad" custody litigation, and help promote paternal involvement in children's lives, would be welcome. But you are not going to win many friends with this kind of rhetoric:
I anticipate great resistance by the Courts, Bar associations, Social Service agencies, and psychologists who make their living working divorce wars. We can expect this. I have done battle with the Bar before and won. Here is what will happen. They will spew reams of fear-laden anecdotal stories in support of keeping divorce a free-for-all.
Look who's spewing fear-laden anecdotes now.