Remark: State ought to credit score each dad and mom who share custody

By Jim Clark / For the herald

Over the past 30 years, we have seen the disastrous consequences of a 1991 Washington state legislature decision to stop auto loan parents paying child support if they have more than 25 percent parental leave for their children . The determination of the relevant time is now left to the judicial discretion, which is determined on a case-by-case basis.

According to 2016 court statistics, approximately 58 percent of all families in Washington share custody at least 25 percent of the time or more. Instead of these families automatically sharing the entire maintenance allowance of both parents from both parents in direct proportion to the time the children spend at home with the parents, only 7 percent of all families will receive housing loans at the discretion of the judiciary. For 51 percent of all families in Washington, one household receives all child support while the other household receives nothing.

If the division of child benefit is left to unpredictable discretion, the prejudice of the judiciary can protect the majority of families in Washington unequally and directly harm the children the state is designed to protect. The discretion of the judiciary undermines the legislative intent of child benefit to share support fairly among parents so that comparable circumstances lead to comparable orders and reduce the controversial nature of the process as support is predictable and more voluntary settlements are made.

For many parents, the separation / divorce is frightening, as in 80.5 percent of the cases one parent receives custody of the majority and 93 percent of all families refuse the housing loan. Parents do not have equally protected rights when one parent wins and one parent loses in the vast majority of cases. Children suffer most when estranged from parents they rarely or never see, and society pays the price for the rise in teenage suicides, early school leavers, substance abuse, prison, behavior disorders, homelessness, and runaway children.

Courts deny equal, loving, and willing parents equal custody and financial protection in an effort to increase the dollar amount and the number of child support enforced by the child support department. The federal government provides Title IV-D matching funds so the federal government pays the state $ 2 for every conflict dollar created by the courts. Additional incentives provide an additional 5 percent of the budget for childcare, so 71 percent of the agency’s annual budget of $ 148.2 million is federally funded. Far too many family courts and lawmakers chase federal dollars and ignore the harm to our children and families in the process.

Will any of our state legislators have the courage to stand up for our families during this legislative period? No legislation has been proposed that is similar to House Bill 1050 (equal custody) last session or the original 2017 version of House Bill 1603 (adjustment of home loans). The legislature continues to ignore the recommendation of the working group for child benefit 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019, the most important and repeated recommendation to make home loans an automatic adjustment of the child benefit plan.

After 30 years of destructive family policy, it is long overdue for the legislature to protect the custody of the parents equally and to protect the common parental home equally financially. What is actually in the best interests of the children is to support full parenthood rather than deliberately causing family conflicts and alienating the parents for the state’s short-term financial gain.

Jim Clark is the Washington state chairman for the National Parents Organization. He lives in Lake Stevens.

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