Shouldn’t We Be Creating Independence In Family Law Not Dependence?

I recently had a conversation with an attorney representing a parent who had an expedited hearing scheduled around New Years. The client had been denied all telephone and physical contact with the children since the start of the holidays in Thanksgiving through Christmas. The exception being a few hours with the other parent being present the entire time. The other parent had moved from the family residence and withdrawn the children from their home school. This parent did not know where the children were living.

When they did speak to the children the children ran from them or made unkind statements to them where once the children had enjoyed a wonderful relationship with this parent. It was pretty clear this was going to be high conflict case with numerous court dates and thousands in litigation fees.

The other parent had already attempted to obtain a protection order several times and had been denied. If a protection order was granted this parent would not only lose their children, they would also lose their government employment and pension. The other parent even bragged they sought the protection orders not because they needed them but to gain an advantage in custody. As a result, I forwarded an 11-page document of suggestions for the temporary custody order to this parent’s attorney.

The conversation began with the attorney providing me with their insight on the suggestions of the custody order based on of their 4 to 5 years experience versus my 33 years. That is not to say that I had not found a prior conversation helpful. I had and made several adjustments in the suggestions based on their feedback.

The attorney then proceeded to say the suggestions were too extensive and too detailed. Court wanted to give parents the ability to make their own agreements. Court orders were never intended to last through adulthood or to be inclusive to all these issues. Things would change and parents needed to be able to come back to court to obtain new orders.

I suggested this created a dependency on the court process as opposed to independence. Forcing parents to return at great cost financially and emotionally to address issues. As opposed to a court process that provided for much more clarity and thorough court orders. And if parents failed they could return to the process then. I won’t even address the issue of co-parenting vs parallel parenting in our discussions.

In addressing protection from false allegations that I provided they explained that court would not take any action to address the allegations or provide protection from these type of allegations because these parents were just beginning the process and this was how things were done in their jurisdiction. I explained that this was how things were done nearly everywhere and without success.

When the order was issued these parents will have little to no time to parent or participate in activities with the children or save for their college. They will be too busy attending or paying for conjoint counseling, co-parenting classes, co-parenting counseling as well as issues for the children too. Who will also be attending counseling.

Of course, the parents will be paying for all of these services. I would estimate about 15/20% of their income in total will be required and that might even be on the low side. Excluding any new and additional legal fees to return to court etc. Another 15/35% depending on just how aggressive the other parent continues to behave to make sure that the children have access to both parents. No wonder parents often feel like they are indentured servants to the process.

After all of this discussion on how important it was for the parents to be able to make decisions regarding the children, neither parent was allowed to be present for the hearing or hear the discussion regarding the parenting schedule because it was feared there would be an outburst from one or both of the parties. Talk about a contradiction.

While it may not be the intention the courts to allow parents independence from the court process that is exactly what is occurring. We continue with the status quo. That this is how things have always been done the attorney told me.

As I said definition, of insanity, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.

Please note; Within 24 hours of the court hearing, the other parent attempted to block custody, stalked the parent, following them home in their vehicle. Forced the parent to pull off the road with the children and police were called. There is more but I believe the point has been made



2 thoughts on “Shouldn’t We Be Creating Independence In Family Law Not Dependence?

  1. Grace Chatting

    In cases where there is Domestic abuse and/or intimidation, there are often mental health issues or personality disorders, and it is imperative that these cases are regularly reviewed. It is also imperative that all professionals involved are familiar with how coercive control operates. Rarely are these cases black and white.

    • Custody Calculations

      Grace, Thank you for your comments. I agree that high conflict cases involving domestic violence, violation of court orders which is what power, abuse and intimidation is in these scenarios. Violation of court orders should be prosecuted and parents held accountable to the law. Otherwise what is the purpose in having parents coming to court to obtain an order in the first place. No pun intended but as a retired law enforcement officer these cases are black and white. As a society the law is necessary to protect all from abuse. Family Law is in chaos because we do not enforce the law.

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