GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) The National Parents Organization (NPO) recently released its report card for the nation on how each state is performing with shared parenting after divorce.
The NPO held a conference in New York City to reveal the results of the report card.
North Carolina received a ‘D-‘ rating on the report card meaning the state, according to local divorce attorney Ashley-Nicole Russell, is not doing a lot to support shared parenting.
Russell was brought in as an expert to speak at the NPO conference at the Lincoln Center in New York City in September.
She practices collaborative law in Eastern North Carolina.
This method is an alternative to the traditional litigation model and gives families a chance to be communicative and transition out of marriage in a more civil way.
It allows parents and couples to settle outside of court.
To put the ‘D-‘ into perspective, Russell explains that Kentucky is one of the only states with an ‘A’ because of new legislation in the state that sets the default custody arrangement at 50/50.
“In Kentucky now, the automatic is mother has 50% of the time, the father has 50% of the time until either one of them wants to change it,” said Russell. “It’s just a default standard.”
According to Russell, this default standard allows parents to have less turmoil because they have the plan laid out as soon as they separate.
In North Carolina, both parents essentially have 100% custody.
“There’s 200% there between two parents and only 100% of a child and so it means that they have to have a determination either through a separation agreement or through the court and it just puts them at odds,” said Russell.
The goal for North Carolina is to enact legislation to set a default standard for custody.
Russell, along with other attorneys who wish to remain anonymous, is writing a bill very similar to the one just passed in Kentucky that will be put before the state legislature.
Russell says there has been a lot of talk in the past about the legislation but it was ultimately shut down by members of the legislature.
“This year is a big push for us that we’re going to write this bill, we’re going to get it in front of our lawmakers here in North Carolina so that we can have a difference in setting that default.
Giving parents a chance to be able to be communicative from the start,” said Russell.
The group is currently drafting the bill and so far, Russell says the response has been positive but she knows it won’t be the easiest path.
“It will take time and we will need input from lots of different people, but there’s a lot of integrity at the heart of this and I think in the law that’s important,” said Russell.