LOS ANGELES, Dec. 04, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — LA Mediator Mark Baer of Mark Baer, Inc. issues the following in response to CNN’s Lisa Ling.
Los Angeles Mediator and Conflict Resolution Consultant Mark Baer today challenged CNN’s Lisa Ling on certain facts reported in her November 7, 2018 program “The Dad Dilemma: Lisa Ling Meets Up with Dads on the Losing Side of Custody Battles.” In her show, Ling portrayed dads who experienced perceived bias from the courts in their litigated custody battles. Says Baer, “I see this story as a missed opportunity in that Ling never broached the subject of mediation, particularly since she said she was the child of divorce and it was ugly. She then said, ‘In the noise of a break up, I see how easy it is to lose sight of the end goal – healthy children who feel wanted, loved, and cared for.’ Had Ling taken the time to mention mediation as a viable option, her program would have been much more helpful to her viewers.”
In his role as mediator and conflict resolution expert, Baer points out that mediation is not about winning arguments, it’s relational. “Anybody in any sort of long-term healthy relationship likely knows that the need to win arguments harms or destroys relationships. Mediation, on the other hand, helps people to better hear and understand each other’s perspectives, needs and interests, and actually problem-solve.”
Mediator Baer states that CNN’s “The Dad Dilemma,” created a blatant misrepresentation about “shared parenting” as a 50-50 split for each parent, when in fact, shared parenting refers to families where the children continue to live with each parent at least 35% of the time, not necessarily 50%, which is the ultimate goal of most Fathers’ Rights organizations.
“As a mediator, I have a problem with Ling erroneously defining shared custody as equal custody and allowing the fathers she interviewed to do the same. Shared and equal are not the same. As Ling mentioned in her program, ‘Courts award custody based on the best interest of the child standard, but judges have a great deal of discretion.’
“In the well-researched article in the Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, ‘Shared Physical Custody: Does It Benefit Most Children?,’ it states, ‘Shared parenting is linked to better outcomes for children of all ages across a wide range of emotional, behavioral and physical health measures. But these studies should not be misconstrued to mean that children benefit from living with an unfit, unloving, neglectful, or abusive parent – or from a parent who had little or no relationship with the children before the parents separated.’”
The information in that article summarized all forty studies published in peer reviewed academic journals focusing on children living in shared parenting families as compared to those living with their mothers and continuing to spend varying amounts of time with their fathers.
Says Baer, “There is no credible research that shows that splitting a child in half like a piece of property is in the best interest of the child. By reporting this need for a 50-50 split, Ling’s program may convince parents to believe that if they receive 1% less than 50% it is unfair to them, harmful to their relationship with their child, and is not in the child’s best interest.”
“Additionally, in this program Ling states, “Men feel that they are victims of gender bias; that our family courts have turned fathers into visitors. In America, more than 80% of custodial parents are mothers.”
While Baer agrees that gender bias does exist in many courtrooms against dads seeking custody, he points out that custody and visitation are “fighting words.”
“Nobody wants to be a visitor to their own child, and anything less than 50% sets up a win-lose situation where parents are battling for equal time with the child when that may not be in their best interest. That fight leads to more parental conflict, which we know is harmful to children.”
While some fathers blame the feminist movement for this bias, Baer points out that the feminist movement works to oppose gender bias saying, “Actually, those who believe in traditional gender roles are the ones who tend to believe that women are better parents than men. If you are going to let a judge make a decision on your case, you are subjecting yourself to whatever biases that judge holds. This is less of a problem in mediation because the final decision makers are the parties themselves.”
Returning to the article “Shared Physical Custody: Does It Benefit Most Children?,” Baer references this data: “There is no empirical evidence that human females have a maternal ‘instinct’ – and inborn, automatic, natural, built-in or hard-wired skills that better equips them for taking care of babies or older children. A mother’s responsiveness or nurturance of a baby – just like a father’s – is largely acquired through experience, not through instinct or through some unique features in her brain.”
Says Baer, “The bottom line is that mothers, fathers, and most importantly, their children, are hurt by engaging in the win-lose game of litigation. In that process, at least one of the parents is likely to feel they have lost. While I appreciate Lisa Ling taking on this difficult subject, I wish she had presented mediation as a viable option and properly defined shared parenting rather than confusing quantity with quality of parental time.”
As a mediator, conflict resolution consultant and collaborative family law attorney, Mark B. Baer is committed to helping individuals and families resolve their conflicts with his psychologically-minded and relationship-centered approach. In doing so, he has mentored hundreds of individuals facing difficult family law issues. A Southern California Super Lawyer since 2012 for alternative dispute resolution, he was elected a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation in recognition of exemplary dedication to highest principles of the legal profession, commitment to the welfare of society, and support for the ideals, objectives, and work of the American Bar Foundation.
Known as a “thought leader,” he has authored columns for Mediate.com, Psychology Today, CoParenter, the Huffington Post, and the San Gabriel Valley Psychological Association’s award-winning newsletter, many of his articles are referenced in books, law review articles, and in think tank studies. Mark is the author of “A Comparison of Dispute Resolution Methods Available in Family Law Matters,” which appears in the noted 2013 publication, “Inside the Minds,” a book offering thought leadership and analysis from C-level executives of the world’s most respected companies and law firms. For more information, please visit: https://www.markbaeresq.com/