Fight Back – 2016

If you are in family court, then you are likely going through a divorce. I’m sorry to hear that as divorce can bring out the very worst in people. You are your emotional weakest and it is quite likely that you feel betrayed or even violated by the person you once trusted most in the world. Divorce can turn lovers into warriors and children into refugees in the battle ground that is Family Court. Everyone in your family is a casualty and it seems like nobody wins. That’s not quite true though. There are clear winners in any divorce. Unfortunately, none of the winners are the family members. They are the lawyers, the judges, the custody evaluators, the special masters…anyone who works in the Family Court for a living is going to make money on your divorce. The only question is “how much do you want to give them?” Here is the good news. That depends on you and your soon-to-be-ex (STBX). Most likely, you’ve worked together to build something of a life and you’ve accumulated some assets together. You need to divide those up fairly. This can be heartbreaking. It can be contentious. It can seem unfair at times. But you have to know this…the more you use the legal system to argue about how to cut the pie – the less pie there is for you and the more pie there is for the Family Court. Here’s a secret. Lawyers LOVE pie! And they want ALL of yours! They are pros at this game. They play it for a living. You are going to get a lawyer. Your STBX is going to get a lawyer. If you have a big pie – they are going to use you to play a game called TIT-FOR-TAT. It is going to look like Rock-em-Sock-em-Robots with your lawyers throwing punches on your behalf. But this game is funny. It is not you and your lawyer you against your STBX and his or hers. It is you and your STBX against the lawyers. Because the more punches the robots throw – the more pie the lawyers get and the less pie you keep. They will happily keep throwing punches until all of your assets are exhausted and you have no way to pay them. Then, they will quit. If your STBX’s lawyer sends you a document that makes you very angry, just wait a bit. Count to 100. Then ask yourself if this is worth losing a piece of pie over. If you can work with your STBX and make an agreement to work together to keep as much of your pie for yourselves as possible, then you will not end up like the people in many of the links on this subreddit. The more you can work together and turn the other cheek – the more pie you will both end up with in the end. It is your wounded family against the Family Court system. Not you vs your STBX. The more you fight, the more money the Family Court takes from you. So don’t fight too much. Learn to let the little things go. Be the zen master. The people the Family Court victimizes are the ones with the biggest pie that fight the hardest. These cases get labeled “High Conflict”. They especially happen when child custody is in dispute. In such cases the judge may appoint a number of so-called “experts” to help determine what is “the best interest of the child”. Each of these additional players is one more Rock-em-Sock-em-Robot in the ring. They love pie too. And they are going to eat yours. Not only are they getting paid out of your ever shrinking pie…but thanks to “Federal Matching Funds”, every punch they throw is a double score bonus. These double score robots have names like “Guardian ad litem”. The GAL is a lawyer that supposedly works for the interest of the children. If the judge appoints one – you have to pay him. Sometimes the judge appoints more than one. You have to pay them all. We know of one case where just the GAL team billed half a million dollars which – when we do the math – means he was working nights and weekends for the entire period of the divorce. Another is the Custody or 730 Evaluator whose is supposed to be an expert in psychology and who is supposed to interview the parents to determine which is the ‘most fit’ parent for primary custody. You only get one of these when you can’t agree on joint custody and a co-parenting plan. This is another double score robot. Some judges have been known to order one 730 evaluation after another. Why? Because the judge will receive federal matching funds for each evaluation. The evaluations can run anywhere from a couple thousand to over $50k. The judge will provide a list of available evaluators. You get to pick. It is a little bit like voting for president – none of the choices are that great. But some are worse than others. Many are known to take bribes. They will sometimes start a bidding war between the parents. You have a pretty good idea that your evaluator is crooked if they insist on being paid directly at time of service in difficult to trace funds like cash, money order, or cashiers checks made out to them personally. You should insist that these be paid through the courts so there is a record of the payments. There are also cases of evaluators with sketchy professional credentials. PhD’s from diploma mills are common. For instance Zoe D Katze PhD has an accreditation from the American Psychotherapy Association. So do some working custody evaluators. That sounds impressive until you learn that Zoe is an actual cat belonging to an investigative journalist. They get to decide what happens to your children so you have to check. Ask for references and search the web for their name. Yelp can sometimes be a collection point for angry victims. Check out and verify their diplomas are real and that they come from real schools. Better yet is to avoid getting one by talking to your STBX and agreeing that you are not going to get fleeced by this system and working together to fight it. The custody evaluators are all in on the pie slicing game and they have a very dirty trick in the case of domestic abuse. They will award full custody to the “bad” or abusive parent. The do this because they are counting on the “good” or more caring parent to fight harder and give up more pie to save their children. In fact, more often than not these evaluators will award custody to the abusive parent. They do it, because they were bribed to, or they simply want to keep the conflict going. Most people manage to be either too poor or pragmatic enough to escape the worst of the Family Court corruption machine. But for those embroiled in it – their cases can drag on for as much as a decade and they need help. Our goal is to offer advice on navigating these hazardous waters while working for the reform of the system. Many people don’t even believe this is happening. Acknowledging that this is real is the first step. On a personal note – a close relative has lost three children to this system. The oldest committed suicide last spring. The goal is to keep it from happening again.

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