Discontinue treating child support and visitation rights as separate issues.

Discontinue treating child support and visitation rights as separate issues.

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Christine Sewell started this petition to Senator Josh Hawley and

Every 13 seconds a divorce occurs in the United States. This equates to 2,400 divorces per day, 16,800 divorces per week, and 876,000 divorces a year. While those are staggering statistics, the consequences are far worse for those divorces involving children. Half of all children in the United States will witness the ending of a parent’s marriage. Fathers are significantly less likely to be living with their children. Let's think about this number: 43% of children in the United States are being raised without their fathers. 43% of our Nation's children are missing their fathers and our court system doesn't seem to care. There are many different reasons for this, but let's look at the next statistics:
90% of divorced mothers have custody of their children and over 79% of custodial mothers receive a child support award, while just under 30% of custodial fathers receive support. Our Nation's family court system is considerably one-sided and efforts to balance this system, in some states, haven't met expectations of non-custodial parents, primarily fathers. 

This next set of statistics is in regards to "Parental Alienation." It is my position that parental alienation accounts for a rather high percentage of the 43% of children living without their fathers. Take a look at the following statistics:

37.9% of fathers are denied any visitation                                                              50% of mothers see no value in the father's continued contact with his children.
40% of mothers reported that they had interfered with the father's visitation to punish their ex-spouse.

How do the children fare in fatherless homes? Let's look:

63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes
80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes
71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes
70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes
85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home

Given the fact that statistics clearly show that almost half of custodial mothers admit to interfering with a father's visitation for their own purposes, and the high statistics of behavioral issues with children from fatherless homes, we must do more to ensure a relationship with both parents is available to children of divorce. If a non-custodial parent misses child support payments, Child Support Enforcement is given full control to obliterate that parent's life without regard for the consequences to the children. On the flip side, a custodial parent can deny visitation and the only recourse is to continually go to court and oftentimes, without much success. Why should a non-custodial parent have to not only pay child support but then shell out thousands of dollars in attorney fees and court costs to receive visitation and maintain the upmost important relationship with their children? 

It is my position that child support and parental visitation should no longer be two separate issues as it applies to family court. Currently, family courts see these issues as two independent issues. Should a custodial parent interfere with visitation of the children with the non-custodial parent, the consequences should be just as severe than non-payment of child support. Are we saying to our children and teaching them that their relationship with their parent is less important than money? In fact, that is exactly what we're saying to them and then wonder how the breakdown of the family unit happens. This concept is completely backward and only serves the state and Federal Government in an attempt to keep custodial parents off of public assistance. Though I do agree that parents should equally support their children financially they should also have equal parenting time and responsibilities. The goals of this petition are simple and should be considered as standard practices. 

1) Both mother and father should be given equal parenting time as much as distance and other factors allow.

2) Both parents should share responsibility in making decisions about their children including medial, schooling, and other decisions thought to significantly affect children.

3) Any "custodial parent" that is found to be denying visitation or thereby "influencing" a child in an effort to disrupt the parental relationship will be subject to fines, a psychological evaluation, possible jail time for contempt of court, and possible custody change in cases with continual denial of any parental visitation and or undue influence, as it has been ordered by a court of law. 

4) Any "custodial parent" that is denying the "non-custodial" parent equal responsibility in making significant decisions shall be guilty of interruption of parental responsibility and be subject to fines. 

5) Parental Alienation is child abuse and should be treated as such by a court of law. Any parent found guilty of significant mental abuse of a child as it related to the destruction of the relationship with the opposite parent shall be subject to a mental evaluation, jail time, and loss of custody. 

6) Parental Alienation will be punishable under criminal mental and emotional child abuse penalties. 

7) Denial of visitation will be considered during any court appearance in relation to a request for child support reduction or increase by either party. 

We must stop the family court abuse being perpetrated by custodial parents in this country if we are ever going to help our children. With years of personal experience in family court, in the state of Missouri, the financial burden being placed on non-custodial parents coupled with the denial of a relationship with their children causes pain and stress that cannot be measured. Many parents that have dealt with parental alienation have had to make the painful decision to walk away because there is no help for them. We must make the consequences for parental alienation and denial of court-ordered visitation just as severe as non-payment of support. If we do nothing, we will continue to see the frightening statistics of children lost, longing for a relationship with both parents but being forced to "side" with the custodial parent out of a sense of survival. We must never allow children to remain in a situation that they lose trust in themselves due to the emotional and mental abuse that is parental alienation. I pray you consider these words, this issue, and the implications of the effects on our Nation's children if we continue to do the same as we have been..nothing.   

 

 

 

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