In the Best Interest of the Lawyers
Family court. It’s the last stop for broken dreams; the place we are forced to reckon with when matrimonial bliss goes bust. And rather than simply dissolving the marital contract in the least damaging way possible it has become a demolition derby for suffering people; a shooting gallery where fathers are driven past gun-toting women, lawyers and judges like targets in a rigged carnival sideshow.
This is not just a scenario endemic to divorce. It is not just the best we can do with a system that means well. Family courts are a corrupt distortion of jurisprudence that commit unspeakably injudicious acts for all the wrong reasons, the most common of which being money. To quote a corrupt politician, “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.”
Family court officials, profiteers one and all, are quick to tell anyone interested that they act in “the best interest of the children.” They can even deliver that line with enough sanctimonious brio to convince themselves and most other people that it’s true.
It’s not. The courts are about two things. Money and winning, in that order. They even have it rigged so that we usually know who the winner is before the gavel ever hits the wood.
Children? Their best interest is the first thing to go, disposable as Kleenex. That’s what happens when you turn children into cash cows and use them as leverage against property and other assets; when you put them at the mercy of lawyers who see them not as children being traumatized by the unraveling of their families, but as chips to cash in when the destruction is being finalized.
The money game goes much deeper than the bottom of the average pocket. Carol Rhodes, author of, “Friend of the Court, Enemy of the Family: Surviving the Child Support System and Divorce Racket,” was involved in the family courts for 20 years. She is a former enforcement officer and investigator for the 37th Circuit Family Court in Michigan
Her considerable experience in a system touted to be in the best interest of the child, was quite actually the opposite.
“It was all about money,” she says.
“How to get the federal and state dollars that were allotted each case for enforcement. In fact,” she continues, “our director would say regularly, ‘we are not the friend of the family, we are the friend of the court.’”
In her horrifying and grim exposé, she goes on to describe how caseworkers were encouraged to robotically push through increases in child support, with rubber stamping from the judge, because it meant increases in revenue to the court. She details how her offices were managed with a philosophy of deception and a focus on increased revenue rather than the interests of families.
It was a system, she maintains, that regularly buried complaints over visitation because there was no money in enforcing the rights of the visiting parent (aka fathers), or in acting in the interest of the children from which those parents were severed.
Ultimately the 37th Circuit became such a success at generating revenue for the court that they became a model of training for other counties and states that were only too happy to emulate their practices.
And where does all this money come from? It’s siphoned off from the already stressed Social Security fund under something called Title IV-D. It’s the federal government filling the coffers of family courts for enforcing child support collection. And it has turned family courts into business concerns, driven by profits, at the expense of broken families and paid for with American’s future Social Security.
Heard enough? Sorry, there’s more.
Gathering up the cash from broken families isn’t limited to the courtrooms and the lawyers. Dr. Stephen Baskerville, in his enlightening book, “Taken into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage and the Family,” also exposes the rampant corruption in the entire system. Baskerville points out that psychotherapists, social workers and various social agencies are also in the game.
He cautions us to remember and consider that, “Involuntary divorce involves government agents forcibly removing innocent people from their homes, seizing their property, and separating them from their children. It requires long-term supervision over private life by state functionaries, including police and jails.”
It is evident, both from sound research and common sense, that it would be in the best interest of the child to maintain a close, loving relationship with both parents regardless of the marriage’s collapse; to let the parenting continue. Indeed, to insist on it, even as the marriage ends. Courts could make that the objective if they were interested in children’s welfare. They are not.
Instead, what usually happens early in the process is the first strike by the court on the core of the family, the restraining order, almost always on the father. They issue them without proof or corroboration, not to protect children, but to take the family expeditiously down the road to child support orders and the money that the courts make from enforcing them.
Read Rhodes and Baskerville. It’s all there.
Fighting the process is treacherous. Rhodes informs us that when men who knew their rights or father’s rights activists came to the court, “The word was passed around beforehand and they were targeted for all the punitive wrath at the judge’s considerable disposal.”
It’s all part of protecting the game; in the best interest of the court, as it were.
And the bias toward women as better guardians of children from earlier days fits in quite well with the schemes of modern courts. All the better and easier for the fixed fight to have a designated winner. No one needs to take a dive when the judges hold the scoring cards and have them marked before the opening round.
Best interest of the child? Indeed.
If it stopped there, at the money, it would still be bad enough. But that is the problem. The courts set up Mom and Dad as lifetime adversaries. They often continue their battles after the divorce with the dedication and fervor of Palestinians and Israelis, their children (remember them?) ever caught in the crossfire.
Let’s be clear about what child custody means. It translates quite literally to ownership. It isn’t just the ability to control when and where Dad and children see each other and how much he will pay Mom and the courts for the privilege of doing so. Managing conservators have the unilateral power to undermine visitation and the father-child bond with impunity. The courts give it to them.
They have the daily opportunity, and quite frequently the desire, to assassinate the character of the absent father; to twist the child’s memory and perceptions to fit with those of the embittered mother.
Over time, fathers go from being Daddy, to being a visitor, to being estranged, to being a memory, and probably not a good one. It’s not uncommon. You know people to which this or something like it has happened. We all do.
And the next time you hear someone bemoan that Dad doesn’t even try to spend time with the kids since the divorce, consider what he might be dealing with when he does.
Sara Jane: “Daddy, why did you beat mommy up?”
Dad: “Sweetie, I never did anything like that!”
Sara Jane: “Mommy said you did and that is why you had to leave.”
Dad: “Well, honey, I never did.”
Sara Jane: “Daddy?”
Dad: “Yes, sweetie?”
Sara Jane: “Are you going to beat me up, too?”
He can’t fight this. He doesn’t have enough parenting time to give the needed, corrective balance to his daughter’s life. The courts have made sure of it. The ex knows it and uses it.
It is easy to tell Dad that he just needs to man up and rough it through seeing the minds of his children poisoned with lies and hatred against him. But of course, if we do that then we are no more really concerned with the best interest of the child than the courts or some of the mothers. For in the conversation you just read, it is the child who suffers most. She is being condemned to a worldview of men and fathers that will stain every relationship she has for the rest of her life. Psychologically speaking, it will help her justify repeating the sins of the mother.
Restructuring a family is a delicate and difficult matter. But it will remain much more difficult than is necessary until we restructure or eliminate the corrupt, arrogant and destructive family courts that currently have the responsibility for doing so.
There is no panacea, though getting government out of marriage and divorce would be a good idea. In the absence of that, removing incentives for courts to exploit broken families would be a start. False allegations in family court to obtain restraining orders should result in jail time. Judges should be removed from the bench and prosecuted themselves for severing a parent-child relationship without a proven reason.
It’s child abuse, pure and simple, and sadly illustrates that what we need desperately are checks and balances, judges with realistic constraints on their power. What we have in their stead are legions of thugs in suits and black robes. This is something every man should know before he plunges head first into marriage.