The purpose of this letter is to request your readers to support Senate Bill 189, a bill to push a more balanced child custody law that would lead to more equal parenting time after divorce.
Children raised by single parents account for 90 percent of homeless and runaway youth and 71 percent of high school dropouts, according to research done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shared parenting improves children’s grades, decreases their use of drugs and alcohol and reduces rates of teen pregnancy. Divorce cases in West Virginia that presume sole custody create an environment in which one parent is the winner and one is the loser
Over the past three years, nearly 35 states have considered measures that would change laws that govern which parent receives legal custody of a child following divorce or separation.
While this progress is encouraging, unfortunately there is much ground to make up. Recently the National Parents Organization Shared Parenting Report Card revealed that, nationwide, the custody laws in the U.S. do a poor job of promoting shared parenting. These developments coincide with the publication of a study in Sweden that shows the benefits of shared parenting. Last month, researchers found that children who spend time living with both separated parents are less stressed than those who live with just one.
In the study, which was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, researchers examined national data from nearly 150,000 12- and 15-year-old students in either sixth or ninth grade and studied their psychosomatic health problems, including sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, headaches and stomach aches, feeling tense, sad or dizzy. They found that kids living with both parents reported significantly fewer problems than children in sole-custody arrangements.
Senate Bill 189 makes an important step forward to correcting the state laws regarding custody. I applaud Sens. Blair, Gaunch, and Rucker for their leadership, and I hope we can count on other elected officials supporting this bill.