Viewpoint: Does family court system destroy families?
By Joe Baker
By Joe Baker
Mommy, sadly said the three-year-old girl as she climbed onto her mothers lap, what did I do wrong? Why cant I come home? That plaintive query points up the cruel and sorry mess that is the family court system in this country today.
Judge Watson White, a superior court judge in Cobb County, Georgia, commented: There is something bad happening to our children in family courts today that is causing them more harm than drugs, more harm than crime and even more harm than child molestation.
That something is the system itself. It is nothing short of state-sponsored child abuse, and the public is fed up. These courts and all their judges increasingly are viewed as the enemy. If you dont wage all-out war against them, they will destroy you and everything you value.
For the past 20 years or more, this court system has promoted and fostered intense anger, frustration and resentment over its continual abuse and misuse of its power to intrude upon and destroy peoples lives as it wishes. A retired New York City Supreme Court judge, Brian Lindsay, summed it up in these words: There is no system ever devised by mankind that is guaranteed to rip husband and wife, or father, mother and child, apart so bitterly than our present family court system.
The mother of the little girl above was accused of something known as Parental Alienation Syndrome. What is that? Noted child psychologist Dr. Richard A. Gardner defines it this way: Parental Alienation Syndrome is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child custody disputes in our family courts. Its primary manifestation is the childs ongoing, and many times relentless, campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification whatsoever. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parents indoctrinations and the childs own contributions to the vilification of the target (alienated) parent.
The biggest problem most people have with this system is that millions of innocent children wind up each year with only one parent in their lives after divorce. This is in large part the fruit of all the anger and hostility encouraged and supported by the system. Parents become Jekylls turning into Hydes. What was once an atmosphere of mutual love and respect becomes one of mutual hatred and resentment.
There is barely a shred of human decency or morality left under the weight of this corrupt excuse for justice. Nobody wins under this system, and the biggest losers of all are the children.
Here is a laundry list of the principal failings of the family court approach, according to The Family Court Reform Council of America: l It abuses litigants and their children on a regular and consistent basis. l It engages in unfair and blatant discriminatory practices in child custody awards. l It does not follow the laws as it is required to do. l Most principals cannot afford appeals because they are too expensive. l Lying, cheating, deception, and perjury by litigants are encouraged, by both judges and attorneys. l It harms innocent children without any remorse or conscience. l It encourages more parental conflict, anger and hostility. l It divides and destroys long-term family relationships. l It robs families and children of vital financial resources when they are most needed. l It denies litigants their basic constitutional rights. l It treats impoverished litigants with contempt and disrespect when they appear pro se (without a lawyer). l It routinely abdicates judicial responsibilities to outside mercenaries. l It does not properly educate litigants and children about emotional pain and trauma of divorce, especially that caused to the children. l It does not handle cases in a timely and well-thought-out fashion because of overcrowded dockets. l Courts show arrogance, incompetence and insensitivity. l Too many inexperienced and unqualified judges are appointed. l It resists any efforts at change or reform. l It is NOT ACCOUNTABLE to anyone for mistakes, misdeeds or malfeasance.
Why would judges and lawyers treat parents and children, who are going through a very stressful time in their lives, in such a manner? The family court system is a billion-dollar-a-year industry! When lawyers promote anger and hatred between their clients and when judges inflict pain and suffering on bewildered children, it is because they make more money that way. Thats the bottom line.
The Clinton Administration tried to make all this better. Unfortunately, they failed miserably. They pushed hard for the Adoption Assistance Act of 1997, one of the worst pieces of family law legislation to come down the pike in many years.
In a nutshell, it provides for redistribution of children by government intervention. It would force all states to adopt statutes to accelerate the termination of parental rights and speed the flow of children toward adoption. State welfare departments would get a bonus of $4,000 for each child they put on this fast track. Talk about bribing bureaucrats to do your dirty work.
If thats not enough, this sorry excuse for a law would bar child welfare workers from making any reasonable effort to reunite families in many kinds of cases. A list of them includes all the kinds of things that cause children to be removed from their parents and put in foster homes to begin with. Such things as child sexual abuse, physical abuse and many other forms of mistreatment.
This so-called law has been strongly pushed by President William Clinton and his wife, Hillary, who believes it takes a village and apparently, a bar association, to raise a child. As you might expect, the most aggressive lobbyists for this half-baked program are organizations of adoption lawyers.
Some other trends in the family law field do not bode well for either children or their divorcing parents. It seems the courts are on the verge of going farther afield from the principles on which our legal system was founded.
The prestigious American Law Institute is proposing a model family law code. ALI is composed of judges, attorneys and professors. The group apparently has decided to allow the more socialist-oriented professors to draft this code. Some of its provisions are not only weird, but frightening from a parents perspective.
Richard Crouch is a family law practitioner in Virginia. He comments: Just a few of the most colorful ideas in this code are in the custody area. Parenthood is radically redefined so that mere biology would be given no claim whatever to custody of a child. One who does not cohabit with the mother is simply not a parent. It is cohabitation that gives rise to parental status and a relationship with a child that is merely biological creates no sort of entitlement even to visitation rightsalthough, weirdly enough, it still gives rise to monetary support obligations, even though there is no other legally recognized relationship there.
Under this very strange melange of newly created social engineering protocols, the standard of the best interests of the children is tossed out the window, and the race to the courthouse would be supplanted by a race to the welfare office because an unemployed caretaker is preferred under this code.
It favors custody for women over men because the authors see women as more loving and men as more abusive. Another one tough to decipher is the assertion that homosexual relationships where cohabitation is involved, confer stronger rights of custody than heterosexual relationships. The argument seems to be that gay parents are somehow more loving and therefore better for the child.
The mother of the three-year-old we mentioned saw her husband abandon her for another man.
Under this model, standard natural parents in a custody battle could both lose custody to third parties or to the state if the judge decides their child-raising abilities are inadequate. This is almost as Orwellian as it can get. Next well hear of state-run communes where bureaucrats train and raise the future subjects of the omnipotent state.
Then there is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Some 157 nations have signed this multilateral treaty, and the U.S. is expected to do so soon, if it hasnt already. Once this document is ratified by the U.S. Senate, it will become the law of the land, superior to the Constitution!
This agreement will give all children an enforceable right to a free, compulsory public education. Likewise, it grants children an enforceable right to be raised in a home free of all forms of intolerance and discrimination. That will cause problems for certain groups such as Moslems, Jews and Christians, as well as some smaller ethnic and cultural groups who dearly cling to the belief that they are superior to others. The New Order will leave no room at all for Amish and Christian Scientist families, because of childrens rights to public schooling and health care.
The treaty bestows on children the rights to adequate nutrition, housing, recreation and medical services. It may force governments at the state and local levels to do more termination-oriented intervention than they are accustomed now to do. There are many areas of contention in this treaty.
Americas nuclear families are under assault from all angles. The children are indoctrinated by the educational system andin custody casesby social workers and court aides. Parents are demeaned, humiliated and treated as worthless individuals, to be scorned and pushed aside. The ultimate aim of the New Order is to have docile, unthinking and obedient citizens in order to advance the agenda.
Some of this, however, can be turned around. The Family Court Reform Council of America, an organization headed by William Kirkendale of California, advocates a pro-active, national and mandatory eductional seminar on divorce and its effects on children as a first step toward a more rational and non-hostile method of resolution. The group proposes making custody something that no one wins or loses and taking the whole issue of divorce out of the courts and away from the judges, except as a last resort.
Well have more to say on this matter later. Suffice it to say now that this approach already is being tried in English courts and seems to be having some success. Watch this column. In the meantime, read Aldous Huxleys Brave New World again or for the first time.