New Jersey BIll A1091 / S273

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Dear Parents and Voters:
            FAN-PAC believes that New Jersey’s children should have the right to receive the love, nurturing, guidance, support and affection of two loving parents.  The greatest gift we can give our children is our time and attention.
            No longer are we a society of traditional, intact families like those depicted in TV shows like ‘Leave It to Beaver,’ ‘Father Knows Best,’ ‘Good Times’ or ‘The Jeffersons.’  Our 21st Century society has 21st Century values that are reflected in our 21st Century family structures.  For perhaps the first time in history, there are more New Jersey children being raised by parents who themselves were children of divorced or never-married parents, and who were raised in single-parent households, than there are children being raised by parents from a traditional two parent upbringing.  This dynamic will only continue to be more the norm.
            It is FAN-PACs position that every child who has two fit parents deserves to have access to both a mother and a father. However, under New Jersey’s current, antiquated child custody law (N.J.S.A. 9:2-4), written in 1948, last amended in 1997 (before any child alive today was even born), equal parenting of children is not one of the choices that a judge can order.
            As the law is now, the only way a judge can order joint legal custody and equal shared physical custody of children is if the parents agree to it.  In the current law, one of the factors that must be considered is “the parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child.”  Separated or divorcing parents who are litigating against each other in court are unlikely to agree about anything.  Too often, child custody is used by one parent or the other as a bargaining chip for other issues.  This should not be permitted.  Childhood is too short and too precious.  The right of the child to two fit parents should not be infringed upon by either parent, nor by the court.
            What does this mean to children?  Research shows that children who enjoy the love, support, nurturing and affection of both parents are less likely to drop out of school, less likely to become pregnant as a teenager or to cause a teen pregnancy, less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, less likely to commit suicide, and less likely be dependent on state and federal welfare for their financial support.
            Shared and equal responsibility for both the financial and physical well-being of our children is both good policy and the right thing to do.  It should be the job of our family courts, rather than denying it, to encourage shared parental involvement, shared parental responsibility and shared physical custody arrangements for our children and all future generations.  Do you agree? 
            We are writing you today because Assemblyman Erik Peterson of New Jersey’s 23 third Legislative District has recently introduced Bill A1091 / S273 which would add only one thing to New Jersey’s child custody law … a presumption of joint legal and physical custody in child custody matters.  All of the other protections for children and parents would remain.  FAN-PAC believes this legislation would encourage separating parents to work together for the well-being of their children, provide clear guidance to the courts when parents cannot agree on physical custody, and establish that, in the absence of clear evidence of domestic abuse, children benefit from equal access to both of their parents regardless of family structure. 
            It is up to all of us to stand up for our children, advocate for them, and keep our promise to them to protect them and limit potential emotional damage from an abusive legal process at a time when they are most vulnerable. 
            Do you agree? Learn how to find your legislators.  Tell them “I support Bill A1091 /S273 to establish a presumption of joint legal and physical custody in child custody matters.”  Ask your legislators to support Bill A1091 / S273, or even to sign on as a co-sponsor.
Ask yourself … In regards to protecting this most basic right of our children, if not now, when?  We thank you in advance for your support.
                                                                                    Rafael Franco, President
P.S. : Do you believe that childhood is precious and every child deserves the opportunity to be raised in a healthy environment?  Join FAN-PAC as we advocate for children.  Help us educate our legislators, family court judges, and attorneys who practice family law. Join us in our family law initiatives as we inspire the next generation of parents to be the next great generation.  And join us in this election year as we inform voters of the positions of all candidates on these critical issues.