Parents who are going through a contentious divorce or fighting over custody struggle with intense, painful emotions. They can feel frustrated, helpless, angry, betrayed and scared, and these emotions can be enough to make anyone lose their temper more easily.
A 2014 report card from the National Parents Organization rated how shared parenting was dealt with in state child custody laws, and Massachusetts was awarded a C+ grade. While this may not seem to be a ringing endorsement, only five states received better grades. The law is often accused of failing to keep up with changes in society, and many legal experts say that outdated gender roles form the basis of much of the nation's child custody laws.
Massachusetts residents may recognize the actress Kelly Rutherford from her appearances on popular television shows including 'Gossip Girl" and 'Melrose Place," and they may also have learned from media reports that she has been involved in a contentious child custody dispute with her ex-husband. The 46-year-old actress divorced her husband in 2008 after two years of marriage, but the legal wrangling over custody of the couple's two children has continued on for several years.
Massachusetts residents may be interested to know that former reality star Jon Gosselin is reportedly seeking custody of his 11-year-old daughter. This comes after the child complained that her mother, Kate Gosselin, was mistreating her. Despite the lack of a relationship between the two parents, it is possible that a judge would allow the daughter to live with her father. However, once a parent has been awarded custody of a child, custody rights may only be modified in most cases based on a change in circumstance.
Massachusetts residents may be interested to learn that a hearing is scheduled for May 18 in an international abduction case that has taken more than 10 years to come to trial. According to the prosecution in this case, the mother took her 8-year-old daughter to Costa Rica illegally and lived there with her second husband. She returned to New Hampshire after the child turned 18. She and her second husband are now facing charges of witness tampering and custodial interference.
Two studies indicate that Facebook and social media may be causing relationship problems and breakups. A survey of 2,000 married people in the United Kingdom found that one in seven respondents had thought about divorcing their spouse as a result of social media activity, which includes sites like Twitter, Skype and SnapChat in addition to Facebook. About 25 percent of those who took the survey said they had at least one argument a week about social media, and 17 percent said it the cause of a daily argument.
Massachusetts residents might be interested in a new study that indicates children of divorced couples suffer less stress when they spend time living with both parents. The research appears in the April 27 edition of the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
Perhaps one of the most stressful aspects of divorce or separation is the arriving at an agreement about the support and custody of the estranged couple's children. This stress can be enhanced when one or more of the children begin to view one of the parents as the wrongdoer. Massachusetts social workers have observed and studies have supported two different types of parental alienation. The first is when the child's negative views of one parent are supported and encouraged by the other parent. The second is when the child begins to alienate from a parent without being provoked to demonstrate such behavior.
Massachusetts residents may be interested to learn that "Gossip Girl" actress Kelly Rutherford has asked a federal court to grant the U.S. government custody of her two young children in a last-minute bid to keep them from returning to France to live with their father. The children, ages 5 and 7, are currently visiting her in New York.
The first part of this two-part post explored the arguments that advocates are making in support of reforming child custody laws in Massachusetts. In a quick recap, the proposed legislation would add a few amendments. The primary change would force the courts to make joint custody the first choice, excluding cases involving an unfit parent.