About Shared Parenting
Shared parenting refers to joint physical and legal custody. In such an arrangement both parents share approximately equal parenting time and have the same rights that all custodial parents have. In Massachusetts, however, this is not the norm. There is no presumption of joint custody. Shared parenting, if implemented in Massachusetts, would create a presumption of joint custody except in cases where one parent is deemed unfit or abusive.


Did you know that SHARED PARENTING MEANS giving joint and equal physical custody (the right to have the child) and legal custody (the right to make major decisions concerning the child) to both parents, unless it can be shown that one of the parents is unfit (as by being violent, abusive, a drug addiction that interferes with parenting . . . ), or by showing that it is not practical due to no fault of one of the parents (as when one of the parents cannot find a job in the area and it is an absolute necessity to move)?

Did you know while there are a number of proposed shared bills in Massachusetts (and other states), they all consist of : (1) a rebutable presumption that joint physical and legal custody is in the best interest of the child, (2) a meaningful opportunity to rebut and show joint physical is not appropriate, (3) does not end the best-interest of the child standard, (4) does not end case-by-case determinations, and (5) does not mean there will be automatic joint physical custody?

Did you know that shared parenting does NOT end case-by-case determinations, does NOT mean there will automatically be joint physical or legal custody (it is a presumption that can be rebutted), and does NOT end case-by-case determinations, and that no credible father’s rights organization has ever made such a proposal? (Our opponents often CLAIM such is the case, but the text of the proposed shared parenting legislation specifically states otherwise.)

Did you know we already have such presumptions in Massachusetts law, such as statutory presumption that if one has engaged in serious incidents of domestic violence, there is a rebutable presumption that joint physical custody is not appropriate? (This law is never attacked as hampering the discretion of judges, or doing away with the best interest of the child standard, or ending case-by-case determinations, even though it has a rebutable presumption of what is in the best interest of the child.

Did you know that shared parenting means that the judge SHOULD consider what is in the best interest of the child, but that in normal circumstances, it is presumed that joint physical and legal custody is in the best interest of the child?

Did you know shared parenting is creating a presumption that joint physical and legal custody is in the best interest of the child unless it can be shown otherwise and would deprive the judge of discretion to hold otherwise unless there is good evidence to indicate such is not the case?

Did you know shared parenting does not end case-by-case determinations of child custody matters?

Did you know shared parenting does not the best interest of the child standard—it just provides some guidelines about initial presumptions that may be rebutted?

Did you know that under current Massachusetts law there are already presumptions in child custody cases—if there has been a pattern of serious violence, there is a presumption that the offending parent is should not obtain joint custody?

Did you know that under any shared parenting legislation advanced by any credible fathers’ rights organization, custody will never go to an unfit parent.

Did you know that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick supports shared parenting?

Did you know that according to divorce, “Fatherless homes account for 63% of youth suicides, 90% of homeless/runaway children, 85% of all children with behavioral problems, 71% of high school drop outs, 85% of youths in prison, and well over 50% of teen mothers”?

Did you know that a major study by Dr. Robert Bauserman that was published by the American Psychological Association in the Journal of Family Psychology, which was a study of all studies on joint custody and sole custody in existence, concluded that “Children in joint custody arrangements had less behavioral and emotional problems, had higher self-esteem, better family relations and school performance than children in sole custody arrangements.”? (Click here for more information.)

Did you know that Dr. Bauserman concluded, “Results of custody and adjustment studies need to communicated more widely to judges, lawyers, social workers, counselors, and other professionals involved in divorce counseling and litigation . . . Such communication could lead to better-informed policy decision making in individual cases. . . . The available research is consistent with the hypothesis that joint custody may be beneficial to children, and fails to show any clear disadvantage relative to sole custody.”?

Did you know that according to long term studies of children in the United States and New Zealand, that there is a direct link between a fathers absence and teen pregnancy, and that fatherlessness was so fundamentally linked to teen pregnancy, that factors such as poverty, race, being raised in safe or violent homes, and exposure to dysfunctional marriages, only showed a slight diminution effect when the father was absent? ((Click here to read research about teen pregnancy and fatherlessness.)

Did you know that Sigmund Freud once wrote, “I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”

Did you know that the father’s rights movement is a civil rights movement, which by definition, is the fight for the most fundamental rights, liberty and dignity belonging to all people?

Did you know that the right to be a parent is one of the most treasured rights under the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution, and the right to be free from discrimination in divorce proceeds is protected under the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights, and that the Declaration of Human Rights was drafted with the help of Eleanor Roosevelt?

Did you know that in the 19th Century, fathers were always awarded custody of the children and women nearly always lost?

Did you know that father’s started to lose custody cases from around 1900—1920 when the “tender years doctrine” was established, which is a presumption that children, especially those of tender years, are better off with the mother?

Did you know that ever since the adoption of the tender years doctrine, fathers almost never win custody of their children?

Did you know that while in Massachusetts the tender years doctrine is de jure illegal and unconstitutional, it is defacto still the law?

Did you that in 1999, Joseph McNabb, dean of Laboure College in Dorchester and a professor of health policy at Northeastern University, conducted a study of cases from the Worcester County Probate Court, which is demographically representative of the state, and that in his study, McNabb hand-pulled 501 case files and found fathers had won custody in fewer than two percent of cases, usually only in those where the mother was dead or institutionalized? (Click here for more information.)

Did you know the McNabb study is available at the Berkshire Athenaeum (library) in Pittsfield and at the Northeastern University Library in Boston?

Did you know that in the very beginning of the women’s civil rights movement in 1848, at the Seneca Falls Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, Elizabeth Cady Stanton set out a Declaration of Rights for Women which complained of men, “He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper causes, and in case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given, as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of women--the law, in all cases, going upon a false supposition of the supremacy of man, and giving all power into his hands?”

Did you know that now the roles are reversed and men almost always lose today and that there is a false supposition of the supremacy of women?

Did you know that the current so-called “best interest of the child” standard currently in use in Massachusetts has been constantly criticized by the United States Supreme Court because it is a “what the judge thinks is in the best interest of the child” standard and does not respect enough the rights of parents to rear their children?

Did you know that the “best interest of the child” standard currently used in child custody disputes was attacked by the United States Supreme Court in the recent case of Troxel v. Granville as being unconstitutional because it did not sufficiently protect the parental right?

Did you know that in Troxel v. Granville, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first women justice of the Supreme Court, said, “It is not within the province of the state to make significant decisions concerning the custody of children merely because it could make a ‘better’ decision."? (Click here to read the Troxel v. Granville decision.)

Did you know that when judges substitute their judgment for the reasonable judgment of fathers and parents they act unconstitutionally?

Did you know that in Troxel v. Granville it was stated, "As we have explained, the Due Process Clause does not permit a State to infringe on the fundamental right of parents to make childrearing decisions simply because a state judge believes a 'better' decision could be made"?

Did you know that the naked "best interest of the child standard" was ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in parenting termination proceedings in Santosky v. Kramer, and that now clear and convincing evidence that a parent is unfit must be introduced before terminating parenting rights? (Click here to read the Santowsky v. Kramer decision.)

Did you know that in the 1978 case of Quilloin v Walcott, the Supreme Court ruled: “If a state were to attempt to force the breakup of a natural family, over the objection of the parents and their children, without some showing of unfitness and for the sole reason that to do so was thought to be in the children’s best interest,” the Due Process Clause would clearly be violated? (Click here to read the Quillion v. Walcott decision.)

Did you know that shared parenting protects the constitutional right of both parents to the society of their child and that the current sole custody, winner-take-all regime of Massachusetts does not?

Did you know that under shared parenting legislation, children would not be given to drunkards, drug addicts, parents that are physically or mentally abusive, or to parents who have demonstrated that they are otherwise unfit parents?

Did you know a March 1999 Health and Human Services report reads as follows: “More than ¼ of all American children——nearly 17 million——do not live with their father. Girls without a father in their life are 2 ½ times as likely to get pregnant and 53% more likely to commit suicide. Boys without a father in their life are 63% more likely to run away, and 37% more likely to abuse drugs. Both girls and boys are twice as likely to drop out of high school, twice as likely to end up in jail and nearly 4 times as likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems."?

Did you know that according to the 2001 New York Almanac, that in 1970, 13% of all children live with only one parent—and that today, according to the same reference, that number has more than doubled. Fully, 28% of all children do not live in two parent homes—and that of that 28% of children who do not live with both parents, 24% live with their mothers, while only 4% live with their fathers?

Did you know, one long-term study of teen pregnancy published in Child Development found that a father's impact is so large that income, race, the mother's characteristics and a host of other normally powerful factors all mattered little, and that what mattered was dad?

Did you know, according to the National Fatherhood Initiative, 24 million children in the United States (34 percent of all U.S. children) live in homes without their biological father?

Did you know in 2000, 33 percent of all births in the United States occurred out of wedlock?

Did you know that a number of states, including West Virginia and Idaho have already adopted shared parenting legislation? (Click here to read about Iowa passing shared parenting legislation.)

Did you know that Italy has passed shared parenting legislation ?

Did you know that a 2006 report, What About the Dads? Child Welfare Agencies’ Efforts to Identify, Locate, and Involve Nonresident Fathers, examines the foster care systems of Massachusetts and three other states; that the report found that when fathers inform child welfare officials that they would like their children to live with them, the agencies seek to place the children with their fathers in only 8% of cases?

Did you know that in 1971 Gloria Steinem, founder of the National Organization of Women (NOW), wrote that children suffer from having “too little father” in their lives, and that a more equal balance of parenting was needed?

Did you know, Karen DeCrow, president of NOW from 1974 to 1977, says “it was clear from the feminist writings and ideas of the '60s and '70s that joint custody was what we supported after a divorce”?

Did you know that in these states that have adopted shared parenting legislation, studies have shown that divorce rates are lower and children are better adjusted?

Did you know that when seeking divorce law reform in the 19th Century to promote gender equal in child custody cases, Susan B. Anthony said, “Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about reform. Those who really are in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation.”?

Did you know that Susan B. Anthony used the refrain, “Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God?” when fighting for gender equality, and that this was taken from a saying of the American Revolution?

Did you know that Susan B. Anthony said of her quest for gender equality, “Failure is impossible.”?

Did you know that the station of father and mother are equal in the eyes of a child, and equal in the contemplation of God?

Did you know that gender roles are learned in youth, and that 19th Century women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony, Lucria Mott were Quakers—as were many other 19th Century women’s right activist—and that Quakers believed in equality of gender at a time when most Americans did not, and that this helped them transcend the stereotypic views of men and women of the day?

Did you know kids need their dads? Kids do.