Many highly respected advocates like National Parenting Organization (NPO) for parental rights have been giving high praise to some of the new shared parenting bills. One in particular is the new Missouri Bill HB1550 that goes into effect this month, August 28, 2016. This Bill has some very good provisions in it which we will mention later in this post.
But first, we want to discuss that we have not seen one current bill yet that isn’t still using general and overly broad terms that can mislead and allude to promises in order to appease and to sound reasonable, and many politicians, some media outlets, and even some attorneys parade them around as a viable solution. However, we believe that not understanding these just serve as a way to stop the equal parenting movement.
Without recognizing it these bills are slipping in wording and concepts that are outdated, unconstitutional, and useless for protecting fundamental rights from the beginning. The most recent summaries and reviews of the Missouri Bill HB1550 even by media outlets such as Washington Times seem to present this bill in a way that gives the public a perception they are getting equal custody. They use wording that is similar to the goals and objectives of the parents but ignore details that they hope you miss. Parents might think that it will be easier to get equal custody because of this bill. We disagree. I guess you could say asking for “equal protection of parental rights” got lost in the translation.
HB1550 makes it easier to enforce your custody time and the judge cannot discriminate based on the sex of the parent. Sure those are both great! What’s bad is how everyone seems to miss that the judge still continues to have carte blanche to take whatever right they want away without any proper due process without any restrictions or limitations on that power, other than what Joseph Cordell, Esq. seems to allude to as a deterrent, the requirement “to provide written findings and conclusions in a custody case, which makes the case appealable if a party disagrees with judgement.” What good would the appeal be if you are still up against challenging the judge’s idea of best interest? We don’t see those get overturned now and we don’t anticipate that they will get overturned because of this bill. So what does this bill really give you in terms of parental equality?
Easier enforcement of your custody time is a great part of this bill so don’t get us wrong. We are not discounting that this is a great thing. What we have a problem with is what about the expense the parents still have to spend to fight for that custody time in the first place? HB1550 Missouri Bill still requires parents to beg a judge to grant them rights they actually had when they entered the courtroom. The bill like all the others we have seen passed so far completely ignore that there is proper due process and procedures that need to be implemented prior to the judge deciding anything less than protection of both parent’s and child’s rights equally. The bill still states that the judge grants these rights based on a list of criteria that includes the child’s wishes, the quality of the relationships between siblings, the parenting decisions, etc. This of course means studies and invasions of privacy, expensive discovery, and other requirements before the judge can meet these requirements. So get out your checkbook and put on your patience hat because you will have a long drawn out process if the two of you are in disagreement. Oh and the judge supposedly is not supposed to use the fact that the two of you are in disagreement as the “sole” deciding factor for not granting you shared custody. Remember shared is not equal. We see it as just another way of saying joint, which we know has not netted equality in any sense. So did Missouri just catch up to other states in those respects? According to Ron and Sherry Palmer every parenting bill needs to start off with equal protection of the law and should say that the judge is required to apply the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution which protects both parents and their child equally from interference or deprivation before the court applies the proper tests. You can find these tests and procedures in the newest motions that Ron and Sherry Palmer have on their website at Fix Family Courts.
Those who point out these shortcomings in bills after the advocates and activists have worked so hard can be seen as knocking their efforts. That we definitely are not intending to do. We are rather being more protective of their efforts and limited energy. We understand that advocates face politicians turning a blind ear to them if they are seen as unreasonable or unwilling to compromise. They are told that it takes time and that baby steps have to be made. The activists who decide to take more assertive methods like refusing to vacate a building and hang banners expressing the problems can be attacked, threatened, and slandered. These are the same methods used by politicians and even law enforcement in prior civil rights movements. An example is some parents are punished by having gag orders placed on them from using social media, and their children restricted from them either completely or placed into supervised visitation. Another example is some are threatened to be thrown in jail for refusing to remove a banner that they hung where they felt it would be paid attention to most during a peaceful demonstration.
When we read through bills like this and use our expertise of how the court systems interpret statutes, we notice the ways the legislators are trying to slither in alternate deals in order to appease the public while maintaining their power to ignore constitutional rights and the limitations that these rights place on the courts.
Nothing is truly being granted that protects these rights. Just as in fights for other basic constitutional rights, like blacks gaining their freedom, they could not compromise with “it’s better than nothing”. They knew that showing any consensus would negate their overall fight. Parents can’t afford to risk accepting the tactics that just buy time, and don’t protect the rights to equal parenting. The term “Shared parenting” in no way guarantees that you get equal rights, aren’t bullied, picked apart unconstitutionally, or are made to look like a bad parent to be excluded from these very rights by way of loophole.
In 1964, The New York Times published an article claiming that the Democratic party leadership was stating that the black delegates fighting for equal civil rights were radicals and dangerous. They published how much the Democratic party was offering them and stated “the liberal concern is that a failure of the civil rights movement to accept the ambiguities and frustrations of politics could have dangerous consequences”.3 This was to urge the public to consider those fighting for full equality as radical and unreasonable, and to apply pressure on them to give in and not fight for equal rights. These tactics were used to hide behind the public with hidden threats and intent to undermine the movement.
It is well known that a political compromise can be used to buy time to ignore true needs and kill momentum. Anytime politicians ask activists and advocates to be okay with “ambiguities and frustrations” they are trying to impact the progress that the activists are making and they are trying to nip it in the bud by simply recognizing the movement with the smallest concession possible. “Have a cookie and be a good child”, they patronize parents. Once accepted, a simmering will occur while you slowly realize it does not help those who need it now, and it does not provide any real solution. Realization will set in that so little was addressed that the bill holds no real power for true parental equality, and it will be very difficult to convince others to take up the same effort again until more damage and destruction occurs. We encourage activists and advocates to let the politicians know “Don’t play with our words – shared is not equal.” Shared is not a constitutionally defined term, “We want our fundamental rights. We want equality!”
Look at the effect of these rotten deals in the media right now, with Joseph E Cordell’s review of the parenting bill HB1550 published in the Huffington Post. They are saying that this bill requires the judge to maximize parenting time or “to disclose why shared parenting wasn’t awarded”. They are saying that because the judge is required to make written findings and conclusions, it “makes the case appealable if a party disagrees with judgement”. The media is equating terms such as “maximum” and “shared” being sufficient since it is close to equal time. When in reality these terms are simply replacements for “joint”. Both “maximum” and “shared” can be determined to what extent, by the judge, and furthermore it can still be dragged out into lengthy, costly, court battles, and appeals that are often lost.
So just as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Fannie Lou Hamer summed it up during the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) controversy, “We didn’t come all this way to compromise for no more than we’d gotten here…We didn’t come all this way for no two seats, ’cause all of us is tired.” The HB1550 bill on custody provisions feels no different than when presidential candidate “Johnson offered the MFDP a phony “compromise.”
Missouri’s HB1550 Bill will continue to require that parents fight over custody of their children. Parents will continue to be required to fight for this maximum time in a court-of-law and still be subject to the desires of their children as well as the biases and prejudices of that judge based on his/her personal beliefs, as well as anyone else’s personal biases and beliefs that the judge chooses to appoint in order to feed their idea of “best interest of the child.” All of this completely ignores that the constitution does not allow them to decide best interest of a child, until they have shown that the parents are unfit or a clear and present danger directly to the child. So where is that restriction? Without it, they are still dictating to divorced parents and still keeping themselves in control over divorced parents just because they are no longer in agreement with their ex.
We will only stand for equality in which the judge is required to protect all fundamental rights. This would presume both fit parents have 50-50 custody without impeding on their fundamental rights and tearing their life, family and finances apart due to a divorce. This does not provide loopholes, this does not grant the judge all power, and this preserves the rights of any and all fit parents.
A good law is one that eliminates the fight altogether and presumes that divorced parents and their children have the same fundamental rights as married parents and their children. Anything less is a tyrannical scam.
You don’t have to wait for the legislators to figure out your rights. You have rights NOW! Go to the MOTIONS page and take these to your attorney.