Steps to reform the gamesmanship that is divorce in Family Court
What follows is one of our readers’ contribution to the discussion on ways to reform our legal system.
Litigated divorce is gamesmanship. Divorce is a modern day Gladiator arena where children are abused as pawns, lawyers hired as tools and custody evaluators as weapons in parental alienation. Judges and their bias are manipulated by those skilled and connected in doing so. Family Court has evolved for the benefit of lawyers, not families. Family destruction is collateral damage and the norm.
Frustrated by the lack of justice, equality and seemingly indifference to right and wrong, many decry that the Courts are corrupt. U.S. Constitutional Rights, Liberties and Protections are often and easily dismissed. The Best Interest of the Child non-standard is arbitrary more accurately stated as Best Interest of the Lawyer. Study after study after study reinforces that two parents make for the best outcomes for our kids yet evaluators will tell you that they know best.
Child and spousal support, however originally well intended, are utter failures that harm our children more than we can understand. Children have the fundamental right to be financially supported and unconditionally loved by both parents. However, child support has no relevance to the true expense of the child and is not meant to subsidize a lifestyle or be a windfall for a divorcing parent. However, child support is often a motivating factor for getting divorced, which in turns fuels the fight and litigation.
As parents, our most fundamental responsibility and obligation is to provide for our child’s basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. We must eat, wear and live where we can afford. If circumstances are such where a parent cannot meet these basic obligations, then spousal support is the answer. Child support should not be subsidizing rent or mortgages. Each parent should share equally in all education, healthcare and special needs expenses. Sharing equally in extracurriculars such as sports, music, camps and many other activities is great and should be the standard but only to the extent of each parent’s ability to afford.
Family Courts are not corrupt, however, they are culpable. Judges preside over the most negatively motivated, deceit filled and emotionally charged environment on the planet. Instead of being a referee and keeping both parties in check and from hurting themselves, Judges are prone to letting the couples fight it out. They leave it to opposing parties to monitor compliance with all the rules and procedures. It is left to the parties to file another motion in order to correct behavior or mitigate a negative strategy. Take compliance monitoring out of the hands of opposing parties and enable the independent validation of compliance and gamesmanship is largely eliminated.
A key failure of Courts is their abdication of custody rulings to custody evaluators. Different names in different states but the same role. Investigations and objective findings of fact into specific allegations where warranted, absolutely! Arbitrary opinions based on pitting parents against one another purely for the purpose of character assignation, absolutely not! Evaluations are Constitutionally repugnant in every sense, are there to divide, not heal and are a foundational reason as to why divorce is so destructive on families and kids. Shift from arbitrary evaluations to objective investigations and a large part of a litigated divorce solves itself.
Family Court is the polar opposite of family friendly but it doesn’t have to be. Most families have the best interest of their kids in mind and steer clear of Court and settle in mediation or in a collaborative approach. The sad fact is that both parents have to agree to a Court alternative, yet it only takes one maliciously motivated parent to take you to Court. That parent goes to Court motivated to win, thus begins the gamesmanship.
4 steps to reforming Family Court:
Legislate a rebuttable presumption of equal parenting time between parents.
Redefine child support to be an equal sharing of actual child expenses regardless of the number of overnights with each parent.
Shift from subjective evaluations to objective investigations resulting in findings of fact not arbitrary opinions.
Shift from self certification of compliance to Court monitored independent validation of compliance with rules and procedures.