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Support Bill on Shared Parenting in W.Va.

Editor, News-Register:

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 drop-outs, according to research done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. 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’s Shared Parenting Report Card revealed that, nationwide, the custody laws in the U.S. do a poor job or 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 that spend time living with both separated parents are less stressed than those that 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 6th or 9th grade and studied their psychosomatic health problems, including sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, headaches and stomachaches, 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 Senators Blair, Gaunch, and Rucker for their leadership and I hope we can count on other elected officials supporting this bill.

Michael Torreyson

Scott Depot, W.Va.

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