Saturday, December 16, 2006

Family Court and Divorce within the Adversarial system


Family courts are governed individually by each state, with each state having its own peculiar laws, precedent setting cases and local rules. However, one common thread is no-fault divorce, now the law in one form or another in almost all 50 states.

No-fault divorce simply means one party is not required to prove fault (guilty of some type of misconduct such as adultery or abuse) on the part of the other party in order to justify filing for divorce. Generally, all a person has to say is something like they believe their marriage is irretrievably broken due to irreconcilable differences and a divorce will be granted. Maybe more accurately, no-fault divorce has also been called unilateral divorce because no-fault allows either party, at any time, for any reason (or for no reason at all) to obtain a divorce.

In family court, the "must win" attitude of the adversarial process serves to perpetuate and exacerbate the parental conflict. When the attorney prepares the stage to “win” for their client, they are simultaneously appealing to their client’s sense of justice, vindication and validation. In this adversarial process, parents learn (or are taught by their attorneys) that in order to “win” in family court, they must cast the other parent in a significant bad light.

This “must win” attitude then provides the justification needed for one parent to verbally tear the other parent apart through false allegations of physical or sexual abuse, alcoholism, drug addition or some other form of dysfunction. The fact the party being unfairly and unjustly torn apart is the mother or father of the children involved is totally lost in the emotionally packed adversarial process of “winning at all cost.”

Therefore, in family court, the “truth” of any given situation is rarely discovered.

Generally, the only thing “discovered” in the adversarial family court process is which parent chose the better advocate.

Hopefully the above simplified overview makes the following crystal clear:

Although family court is “no fault”
If you want to be a “winner“
Family court is nothing but fault.

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By: Marvin Chapman
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