My divorce was tame compared to some. There were no domestic abuse issues, no custody battle issues; we went our separate ways with no physical harm done. I can’t say the same about emotional harm but, as I learned the Family Court System is ill-equipped to handle the conflict created when a man has a personality disorder or is hell-bent on using the system to punish their ex.
As a matter of fact, it is my opinion the Family Court System is ill-equipped to protect anyone whose divorce is high conflict. Judges, Attorneys, Psychologists, and other court-appointed personnel EXPECT divorce to be one size fits all and when it isn’t lack the skills to support civility. What you get are platitudes and an attitude that if you are engaged with an ex who creates conflict you must be playing a role in the conflict also.
If I had a dollar for every person I’ve heard from and worked with who felt let down by the Family Court System, I’d be sporting a new pair of Manolo Blahniks.
How the family court fails to protect women.
1. Contempt of Court: If a man fails to pay child support or defies a portion of the court-ordered divorce decree, there is the ability to “petition the court for contempt.” The only problem, it will cost you attorney fees to do so, and rarely is a defendant held responsible when found “in contempt.”
In my years working in the divorce industry, I’ve not heard one story in which a defiant, in contempt man, was held responsible by a Judge. If you are a mother dependent on child support you will find very little protection from the Family Court System.
2. Crushing Financial Expense: If you are engaged in a custody battle or high conflict divorce you will find little or no legal support from the Family Court System. Especially if you are in a “he said, she said” situation that increases the time involved in the divorce process. Judges have little patience for those who stall their docket and divorce attorneys who thrive on prolonging the conflict to enrich their practice do nothing but encourage the conflict.
3. The Best Interest of the Children: The Family Court is set up to protect the rights of both parents, which in turn will supposedly protect the rights of the child. This concept is meant to be in the best interest of the child since the focus is on equitable rights for both parents. But, how do you “equitably” divide a child?
Custody battles take place when one parent feels they are better equipped the care for children than the other parent. Personality disordered individuals will use the Family Court System to abuse an ex-spouse which leaves the children as collateral victims.
Judges are busy, skeptical individuals who have packed dockets and little tolerance for quarreling parents or the personality disordered father. They are more concerned with getting a case “solved” and clearing up their docket than taking the time needed to distinguish between fact or fiction and in the end, doing what is actually in the “best interest of the children.”
4. Domestic Abuse Cases: Abusers use the court system to exert control over an ex-spouse. They manipulate attorneys and judges who end up playing a role in further harm being done to the ex-wife and children born to the couples. The very people who the courts are sworn to protect!
When a mother, the parent most likely to make accusations of abuse of herself or her children enters the Family Court System she and her accusations of domestic abuse are met with suspicion and it has been my experience that judges don’t want to hear it.
Many mothers are tuned out and turned out into the cold with few resources because the Family Court System would rather hear a story of cooperation…the “happy divorce” gets much more attention than the high conflict divorce. After all, happy divorces, those with little or no conflict are quick and easy for a judge to run through his/her docket.
Here is an example from personal history with the Family Court System of how women are viewed if you attempt to use the system to protect yourself and your children. I have a friend who is a divorce attorney. She has been privy to the issues in my divorce that kept my ex-husband and me in and out of court for seven years. She knows how many times he defied our divorce agreement and what that defiance me for the children and I.
I recently posted a comment on a Facebook discussion she was having about something that had occurred in the local Family Court. It is has been years since I’ve been involved in that particular court system but, due to my profession, I remain curious about changes.
When I questioned her about the issue, asking about names and the particulars she replied to me by saying, “Please Cathy, don’t stir the pot.” Stir the pot? Her belief that I am a pot stirrer is based on the fact that my ex defied every aspect of our final divorce decree and I filed petitions for contempt to have him held responsible. I’m the bad guy for holding him accountable!!
In my friend’s eyes, I’m someone who stirs the pot or makes waves because I expected a system that is set up to protect my children and me, to actually protect us. I had the audacity to use the system in the way it was set up to be used. And due to that, I am viewed in a more negative light than the person who defied orders from the judge, emotionally abused his children and caused those he left behind extreme financial and emotional distress.
Bottom line, the Family Court System fails us by not protecting those who use the system as the system was designed to be used. If you are a mother trying to protect your children, your assets or your legal rights via the Family Court System, the cards are stacked against you.