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Monday, February 02, 2015
HB624: Parental Parity in Child Custody Cases
By Chris Lethem @ 11:14 PM :: 3345 Views :: Family, Judiciary

by Chris Lethem

This bill passed last year, but was vetoed by Gov. Abercrombie because of a defect in the language created by Senator Hee.

We need help getting it passed this year. Testimony will be heard on HB624 tomorrow morning at 8:30 am in room 326.

LINK: Text, Status, HB624 "Clarifies the factors under which the family awards custody and visitation of a minor child to ensure parental parity."

LINK: Submit Textimony

  *   *   *   *   *


February 3rd, 2015 in House conference room 329

Testimony of Chris Lethem in Strong Support of HB624


Dear Committee Chair Representative Morikawa;

I am testifying in strong support of the original language found in HB624.

It is time that we move the family court away from the adversarial model and finally start respecting the unique and mutually important roles that both parents have in their children’s lives.

Parenting has been and will always be a time intensive activity.

More parenting is better than less parenting. (2 > 1)

2 parents parenting is consistently better than either 1 parent parenting. (2 > 1)

Once our court system adopts a paradigm that respects the unique and invaluable role that both parents play in their child’s development allows families to heal, we will all be the beneficiaries. This is a healthy and respectful approach to developing an optimal environment for our children and their well-being post-divorce.

When there is respect (`Ihi ) for the important yet unique roles that both parents and also the grandparents have in their children’s lives we soon realize that having a legal dispute isn’t just destructive it is serves no purpose other than to create more conflict, ill will and drains families of much needed assets that could otherwise be put use for the benefit of our children. (2 > 1)

When the focus is about having a successful post marriage (successful divorce) relationship that gives both parents adequate time to parent their children, there is much less post decree litigation and children do better in all risk areas along with substantial reductions in family violence. (2 > 1)

Children who have lived in shared residential parenting families say the inconvenience of living in two homes was worth it – primarily because they were able to maintain strong relationships with both parents. (2 > 1)

Parenting time is how we pass on our traditions, values and beliefs. It is how parents teach nurturing, pass on standards of excellence, the principle of self-reliance, the importance of respect and reconciliation. For parents to parent effectively they need adequate time to parent. (2 > 1)

When both parents have adequate time with their children, they are able to engage them in day to day activities, where effective parenting occurs. Thus, avoiding the “Disneyland dad” scenarios that often leave both parent and child frustrated. Equal time also gives both parents adequate time to pursue other beneficial endeavors and interests. (2 > 1)

Too often custody litigation is ego driven or is about getting retribution, getting free money or having the power and control. Parents are easily enflamed by attorneys seeking to play on their hostility or fears. When parents engage in litigation they will often invent ways to gain an advantage through allegations or taking statements or behaviors out of context in a battle of he said, she said scenarios. These behaviors and motivations are self-serving for attorneys and parents while doing nothing to serve the goals of having healthy outcomes for our children. (2 > 1)

It should be a time of healing (Hoʻoponopono). When there is ongoing conflict over custody, it sets the tone of the relationship in a very negative atmosphere where there no longer exists any goodwill between the parents for the remaining years of the child’s minority. The loss of trust and goodwill makes working together for the common good of the children much more difficult or impossible. (2 > 1)

Consistency is an imperative related to emotion not to location. Children function best when there is emotional consistency and regularity in their schedules. Spending adequate time with both parents gives children that level of emotional balance and certainty. (2 > 1)

Why did we think that effectively removing a parent from a child’s life would give them an advantage? We know today that it doesn’t. In fact, we know that 38 percent of children raised in a single parent household will grow up to live in poverty. Much more likely to drop out of school, get involved in drugs, be a victim of a violent act or engage in violent behavior. Teenage girls are far more likely to become pregnant - only to create an even a greater reliance on social welfare and perpetuating poverty. (2 > 1)

In summary, it is time to put an end to the adversarial model of litigating over time allocation or child custody. We know that shared parenting is good for children and families. It is time that we have statutes that reflect our unique Hawaiian values and also better serves our children and families. Let’s have a legal structure that engenders mutual respect for both parents and assures our children they will be the beneficiaries of the love, respect and protection of both parents. Thank you for taking the time to read my testimony. (2 >1)


Chris Lethem


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