Family Reunion is a national non-profit that helps divorced couples parent in the best interest of their children.
Executive director of the Bakersfield branch, Dianna Thompson, said their goal is to keep both parents equally involved, hoping to avoid a custody battle.
“We currently have a very adversarial court system that often pits one parent against the other and I really firmly believe that children need, want and deserve both parents in their lives and currently that’s not happening in the current system that we have,” said Thompson. “Parents go in and instead of going through the court system, they fill out a jointly agreed upon parenting plan that is submitted to the court.”
Former Family Reunion intern Ryan Rust credits the shared parenting model for making his parents’ split a little easier on him as a teen.
“It helped because it made me realize people can have it better,” Rust said. “They can go through a divorce easier with parents help and if parents can come together and truly be there for their child it can really benefit them through a time that’s really hard for them.”
While Rust’s parents were able to implement shared parenting, that wasn’t the case for current intern Monisha Hossain.
Hossain’s parents divorced when she was 5.
“My mother got full custody of me and my brother and she packed her bags and moved to Georgia and she would always say mean things about my dad to me and my brother,” said Hossain. “It was not the best growing up with my mom and I would have preferred to live with my dad and right now I’m not talking with my mom, I’m only talking with my dad.”
Hossain now an advocate for the parenting technique.
“I just don’t want others to have to go through what I did,” she said.
The organization is working on a new documentary, “A Case for Shared Parenting”, to be available as a resource for families as well as educate law makers, with the hope for changing how the court system decides custody.
“It outlines really what we can do to change the laws with in local states or even the national government and it shows parents how to deal with it themselves,” said Skylar Poulton, Family Reunion video production intern.
You can find more information on Family Reunion here.