The 2008 Equal Parenting Bike Trek will take place on Thursday, August 7, 2008. Five fathers pedal on bicycles 758 miles from the Lansing Capitol in Michigan to Washington, D.C. Their target is to reach the 2nd Annual Family Preservation Festival in Washignton D.C.
Now if you are not familiar with Equal Parenting rights I think you should pay close attention. If you are running for state representative and would like to win your race then you might want to help us.
In Detroit and most of Michigan it is imperative that we bring back traditional families back into the picture. Part of that picture is making equal shared parenting law. Any state lawmaker or candidate for state representative who is against equal shared parenting should not be elected ever.
Equal parenting provides something that no other parenting arrangement provides: quality assurance. If one parent is failing to provide adequately in one part of the overall parenting domain, the other parent can easily, and legally, step in and help. The child can get help in math at one home, help in Spanish at the other, and help in personal relationships at either. And if one parent is stressed out to the extent of harming or neglecting the child, the other parent can be the child's champion ... and yet not sever that stressed parent completely because that leads issues.
Relationship breakdowns are acrimonious affairs. But far more acrimonious are relationships that are forcibly broken down by someone outside the relationship. It's a great way to generate outright hate.
So when parents sense that they may lose their child forever (because the child, being so young, will not have the capability of recovering the relationship on its own), they react to this impending doom. Sometimes they flip out and do outrageous, and illegal things. For instance, the mother who kidnapped her triplets, or the murder-suicides (like a mother who I used to know shot and stabbed her ex-husband down south last year). But these are caused by the lack of personal security: if this precious relationship was secure then the parent could consent to temporary measures to help both parents over the impasse.
So, here is the key element of Equal Parenting: have the system work to reduce tension, rather than the current "winner take all" system that encourages inflaming the situation and family and child dysfunction.
Children have no real rights because they cannot enforce any "rights" on their own. A child requires a champion to work the system. The government cannot provide this champion because the government does not know the child, and neither does the bureaucrat assigned the case. Only the parents do, and only if they live with the child a substantial amount of the time. A child has no control over the money, even if it is in the child's name. Thus, a child has only two assets: Mom and Dad. Everything else is an illusion.
Divorce has a huge, but unmeasured effect on the economy. However, note that the surest way to gain custody of your child is to quit work. The usual way of losing custody is to go to work. By stepping out the door, you've stepped out of the child's life, possibly forever. This is not a productive way to run an economy. Using the court process to recover a relationship with your child is often so exhausting, that it is a frequent occurrence that men lose their jobs (due to poor performance), and then, unable to pay support, they start a downward spiral that leaves them as largely unproductive members of society.
Taxpayers support divorce, and taxpayers support the added cost to society of single parent homes. Child support cannot possibly be high enough to pay these added costs without destroying the life of the taxpayer (and his capacity to earn). Using the guideline amounts for child and spousal support, a taxpayer can see 70% of this income deducted at source, more if there are add-ons or if the income is imputed at higher level. Downloading welfare onto an individual is poor policy. An average earner taxpayer is prevented from forming stable new relationships ("moving on") owing to the huge financial stress they are under. An average recipient is demotivated from seeking employment since for each dollar earned. The essence is two households cost more than one, so, for average earning households, the taxpayer must pay to make up some of the difference.
Equal parenting tends to reduce the overall divorce rate; if you know you will always have to deal with the other parent, there is a stronger desire to have the marriage work. This is born out in several American states that have a presumption of (legal) joint custody.
Divorces represent a huge amount of income to the legal profession, money that could have been used to raise the children. Several organizations have attempted to bring forward a constitutional challenge, but the courts would not hear it. Other groups can have their challenges heard with far fewer members. The custody/access portion is not really possible to bring forward in an individual case owing to the nature of the cases; the initial court process is slow, the appeals process is slow, the children are grown up and gone before the U.S. Supreme Court would ever hear it.
One should note that neighborhood crime statistics correlate more with single parent homes than income levels. Poverty no longer generates as much crime as single parenthood does. Criminal lawyers will lose business if crime is reduced.
Equal shared parenting lays the foundation for effective access enforcement, since it changes the norms of society. If everyone expects equality between the parents, then the abnormal denial of one parent will be readily seen as child abuse, and actions will be taken by neighbors, the schools, and other members of the community to correct so obvious an abuse.
Lastly, this is a human rights issue. There is only one group that is specifically targeted by special laws to have their assets seized, their bank accounts frozen, and be placed in jail without ever committing a crime.
This is why we have five brave men willing to trek across the Midwest and East Coast to make a statement. That statement is making Equal Shared Parenting a reality.