Monday, January 11, 2021

Equal Parenting Law can Help Stop Human Trafficking – Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott Announces Grace Week

Unequal Parenting contributes to Human Trafficking as 90 percent of homeless and runaway children are from unequal parenting homes. Texas must pass HB 803, the Equal Parenting Bill, which can greatly help reduce human trafficking.

Human Trafficking is a serious problem and I applaud Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott for taking a public stance on the issue. Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott announced Governor Greg Abbott’s Response Against Child Exploitation (GRACE) initiative will host a statewide interfaith Week of Prayer to End Human Trafficking from January 11-17. This coincides with Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

It is especially tragic that there are so many children involved in human trafficking. But how can that be? Where are their parents? Unfortunately, homeless and runaway children are easily swept up by human traffickers. NEARLY ALL (a whopping 90%) HOMELESS AND RUNAWAY CHILDREN ARE FROM UNEQUAL PARENTING HOMES according to the US D.H.H.S. and Bureau of the Census. See more equal parenting facts and statistics at Equal Justice Task Force.

Unfortunately, for a good portion of these children, we, the State of Texas, created this unequal parenting situation and this crisis. You see, the Texas Family Code does not have an option for equal parenting time and possession for fit parents after a breakup. The Texas Family Code only has a standard possession order in which one parent gets the majority of the time and the other parent gets pushed out and the child might only get to see the other parent every other weekend. That means when parents split, they will fight and bicker and tear their children apart trying to be the parent with more time and trying to shut the other parent out. The children suffer as a result, not only from the trauma, but from being separated from one of their parents.

Children have a right, and a need, to be equally involved with both of their parents as long as both parents are fit, willing, and able. Just because two parents break up does not mean that the children should have to break up with their parents.

Why are we hurting our kids like this? Why can’t we allow children to get to see both of their parents equally even though their parents break up? This unequal parenting affects both mothers and fathers. Many women have to pay big bucks to try to get to see their kids more than every other weekend if their husband has money for a big name lawyer. And for a vast majority of child custody cases, it is the father who has to pay big bucks and fight to see their kids and usually gets pushed out of the lives of children. This has created a fatherless crisis in America. The majority of all teen runaways, teen drug use, teen suicide, teen pregnancy, and teen crime all come from fatherless and unequal parenting homes. Both mothers and fathers are needed in a child’s life and development!

Texas must put an end to this crisis by passing the Texas Equal Parenting bill HB 803. This bill will make the new standard starting point Equal Parenting time and possession for parents deemed fit and granted joint managing conservators in child custody cases. That means a judge will first determine, as the law already requires, if one parent is not fit. If a parent is for instance convicted of abuse then the equal parenting starting point would not apply to them. However, as in most cases, if both parents are fit and granted joint managing conservators, them the new starting point would be equal custody and then a judge could then lower from equal custody with written findings and just cause. This equal starting point would stop much of the fighting in court that hurts our kids and keeps them away from their parents. This would unclog the court system and save taxpayers money. Kentucky passed an equal parenting law with almost unanimous consent last session and custody case filings and even domestic violence went DOWN tremendously in Kentucky within just a year. Parents would not have an incentive to fight and will just have to get along and share the child because that is what is in the best interest of the child. It’s about what the children need, not about what the parents want. This would even reduce the number of homeless and runaway children who get snatched up in human trafficking as 90 percent of runaway children come from an unequal parenting fatherless home. We have a crisis. Our kids are hurting and even dying at staggering numbers when they do not have both parents involved equally in their lives. We must stop allowing the Family Court to contribute to this crisis and empower the Family Courts to have equal parenting starting points in child custody cases. We need to pass Texas HB 803 Texas Equal Parenting bill.