In 2002, Rinaldo Del Gallo became the spokesperson of the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition.
The Berkshire Fatherhood Coalitions goal is to promote the father and child relationship, and gender equality in our family court system. Many people in Berkshire County know the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition not only through numerous media appearances and letters to the editor, but because they have had floats in the Pittsfield 4th of July Parade, the North Adams Fall Foliage Festival Parade, and the Pittsfield Halloween Parade.
As a state senator, Del Gallo will fight for shared parenting legislation, a fight that has been going on since the 90’s with bills filed every year.
What is shared parenting? It is simple, really. “Shared parenting,” as the name suggest, is a simple legal presumption that there will be joint physical and joint legal custody after divorce, or in the case of out-of-wedlock children, after the break-up. “Joint physical” means roughly equal—as much as practicable. It is just that—a presumption. It could be rebutted by evidence that a parent is unfit or any other evidence under the sun that would suggest that joint physical and joint legal custody is unworkable or impracticable. Shared parenting does NOT mean that custody arrangements would be automatic, or that case-by-case determinations would end, or that violent people would still get custody of their children. In fact, that could be written right into the legislation to assuage any fears (not that it really needed to be, because it is inherent in the nature of the legislation).
Despite the progressive and commonsense nature of shared parenting legislation, Del Gallo was attacked for his support of shared parenting by the local media and others in the early 2000’s. When they appeared in parades, some actually booed. Today, as they go down the Parade routes, the reactions are entirely positive, the ovations thunderous, and the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition is recognized for the community group that it is. They have made roughly 40 parade appearances in Berkshire County (and beyond) since 2002, as well as having been the subject of countless media pieces and letters to the editor.
In 2004, a non-binding question was put on the ballot by the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition to see if voters in Berkshire County (and some of Hampshire County) supported shared parenting. The vote won with a 78% margin. When asked by Rinaldo Del Gallo at town halls, Governor Deval Patrick announced his support for shared parenting legislation.
Del Gallo will fight or the rights of fathers, but this is really about the rights of children. Virtually all social pathologies (criminal conduct, suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, academic achievement, teen pregnancy, dropout rates, social and psychological adjustment) have a strong link to fatherlessness. And the data are quite clear—almost all unbiased, scientific studies done without an agenda in mind show the benefits of shared parenting.
Why doesn’t shared parenting become the law if it is so good for society and it is so popular? Well, that’s where discuss the role of money and politics. What would happen if shared parenting became the law? There would be less litigation, and that is bad for trial lawyers.
Shared parenting is based on a simple premise—kids need their dads. And its starts with another premise, most dads, like most people, are not unfit or unworthy to be around children, especially their own.
Shared parenting also represents another problem with government, apart from the issue itself. It is emblematic that government more and more does not represent us or are values. Despite this question being placed on the ballot in 25% of the districts statewide and winning by 86%, twelve years have passed with no shared parenting legislation. Government does not represent us anymore, and money is that cause.