Divorce Court: Mopping Up the Mess

Most people never have their day in court. They have no need. They commit no crimes. They avoid lawsuits. And they never testify at a trial. Most of us never even serve on a jury, despite being summoned every few years.

The closest most people come to a courtroom is watching “Law & Order,” unless they get divorced or have ringside seats to the breakup of the marriage of a relative or friend. Then they sink into the quagmire known as our family law system. Nearly everyone who enters this system gives it low marks. The so-called “winners” and the “losers.” Everyone agrees. The polite way to say it: the system is deeply flawed. Privately, attorneys, judges, and litigants bemoan: the system sucks. Read the article on Huffpost.

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2 Responses to Divorce Court: Mopping Up the Mess

  1. EC says:

    I hope the public will be kept well informed of the project’s progress, and afforded opportunities to provide input and contribute.

    What I’m hearing here is not that encouraging: I’m convinced that fundamental substantive change—in particular in the way intra-parental conflict is regarded, a point in which the therapeutic community is heavily involved—and fundamental legal procedure—when and how the state can intervene, as opposed to adjudicate opposing parenting plans—is absolutely necessary to make a difference, especially for the cases which under the current system are highly problematic.

    Approaches, such as the fairly recent Elkins Family Law Task Force in California, emphasizing or limiting themselves to enhancing `services’ such as “fast-tracking intervention,” and technical aspects of procedure, have uniformly yielded disappointing, essentially piddling results.

    That the doctrine is that intra-parental conflict obviates joint custody, is why the misbehaving parent is rewarded, and why family court orders—which are modifiable—are not enforced.

  2. EC says:

    Many family courts already require litigants with minor children to take what is variously called a divorce education course or a coparenting workshop at the very beginning of the court process, and in some locales have for some time. Mediation is usually the first step, which must be attempted and which must fail before any adversarial proceeding is scheduled.

    The problem with this approach is that one never escapes the shadow of the law: it probably helps parents who are inclined toward coparenting and have problems, say, communicating, but if a parent resolved on disenfranchising the other parent knows they stand to prevail at trial, they simply ignore the therapeutic advice and education, and stonewall in any mediation they are mandated or coaxed into.