Email letter presented to House Judiciary Committee - not covered, Edited for Confidentiality
To whom it may concern: February 18, 2003
We are writing in support of SB 60 since we are unable to be there in person to testify. As a stepparent and educator, I fully support both parents being granted equal time with their children contingent on them being capable and willing to do so. Everyone can only benefit from equal time.
Currently my husband, xxxf, and I are going through a very messy and costly custody battle for his son who lives six blocks from us. xxx does not want to take him away from his mother, but simply wants equal time with him. We bought a house close by almost two years ago for the sole purpose of being closer to him and to see him more. Since we moved in, xxxf has had to file for custody in hopes of just getting more time with him. Previous to us residing close by, the mother allowed him to spend the nights (she is a nurse and was working nights) with his dad frequently and was more lenient with giving him more time. Even though it was always based on her work schedule when it was convenient for her and she didn't have anywhere else for him to go. Whatever the case is she did allow more time with him before we moved closer.
He is only six-years-old and is very aware of the conflict that exists between his mother and father. He thinks that it's only fair that he is at mom's ½ of the time and dad's ½ of the time, that way he can be a part of both families. He often tells us this as well as his mother, but her response is, “We'll just have to see what the judge says.” How much sense does it really make if a young child is able to figure out what is fair? Yet the people who make the laws aren't able to see it from the children's point of view.
Because of the mother's varied work schedule and 12-hour shifts, he is already at our house usually three times in a week. xxx picks him up from school and he is with us until around 8:00 p.m. We would just like to be able to keep him overnight those nights, but the mother's reason is “stability” and of course she knows the laws that her child support would then be reduced. But when does stability mean one house? Stability is also having both parents equally involved consistently.
He is easily at our house almost ½ of the month (when she works) for a few hours in the evening. Why can't he just be allowed to stay to allow xxx the enjoyment of tucking his son into bed and doing the nightly rituals that the custodial parent gets? And the excitement of a child waking up and having breakfast together and taking him to school? So many of the simple joys of parenting the non-custodial parent misses out on.
From an educator and counselor's point of view (I am currently working on my Master's degree from SDSU) children would be so much better off if they did indeed have BOTH parents and they BOTH wanted to be an integral part of their life. I see so many students who don't even know who their father is and if they do, they'd probably be better off without them. I have several friends who are single mothers and wish the fathers of the children would actually take an interest in their own children. Why can't the parents (usually fathers) be allowed to do this when they truly want to? Because the current guidelines only allow minimum time with their children!
Having been in these situations, personally and professionally, I have seen the very best of parents and the very worst of them. It's only fair that the parents who wish to have a say in raising their children and be a part of their life need to be given that opportunity. The non-custodial parent deserves a right to be a parent and spend equal time with their children and not just provider financially for them.