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HB #855:  An Act Relative to Shared Parenting

Testimony to Committee of the Judiciary

Mark Charalambous, Spokesman, CPF/The Fatherhood Coalition

May 17, 2004

I am Michael O'Neil, Cochairman of CPF/The Fatherhood Coalition. Our organization drafted Senate Bill 855, An Act Relative to Shared Parenting, which was filed by Senator Scott Brown.

            In reality, "the best interest of the child" standard has nothing to do with anyone's best interest, and certainly not our children's best interests. Instead, this archaic standard has everything to do with who decides who has the right to decide the fate of our God-given children.

When a father walks into a courtroom, there is not a man in the building - there is not a man in the Milky Way Galaxy - who knows better than the father what's in his child's best interest. The only other human being on the planet who has the child's best interest at heart is the child's mother. Children need both parents.

            Yet in Massachusetts today, over 90% of the time, a judge will rule that it is in "the best interest of the child" to have his access to one of his parents --usually the child's father -- severely restricted. The very wording makes it sound as if the judge were infallible -- every ruling he makes is in "the best interest of the child". You, our legislators, currently allow unelected, unaccountable, life tenured state employees, with a financial stake in the results, to pass arbitrary judgment on our fathers, mother and children based on this dishonest and unjust standard.

            The irreparable harm caused by the deceitful "best interest of the child" standard is well documented: studies and statistics show the exponential increase in teen pregnancy, suicide, drug usage and school failures that follow these unconscionable court edicts. The experiences of the members of the Fatherhood Coalition support these figures. In the cases where the child achieves and succeeds, the father is involved in his life. The abused, violent and truant children lack their father's presence and guidance. Children need both parents.

            85% of the voters of Massachusetts recognize the failure of the current winner - take - all standard. They want meaningful shared parenting legislation, and Senate 855 makes all the necessary changes in existing divorce and custody law to provide the equitable presumption of shared parenting.

The members of this committee must decide: who do you serve? Do you serve the extreme feminist minority and the greedy, deceiving and uncaring members of the divorce industry? Or do you serve the people, children, fathers, mothers and grandparents of Massachusetts? Decide and act.