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John Grosz, President
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Open, West River Rep.
James Zajicek, East River Rep.
Roger M. Baron
I must say that I am offended by your reference to attys who make "big bucks" off the "divorce industry." I think you will find that lawyers and judges alike would tell you that the last thing they like doing is custody fights. I am happiest when I have parents who can agree on what is best for their child and I only help them finalize it. Lawyers who object to shared parenting don't do it on the basis of money out of their pocket, rather, just like you, they have opinions based on their experiences, biases and prejudices.
Thank you for your response and feedback. I hope it opens the door for discussion. I guess we can agree to disagree until there is a change. I recognize I have offended you and probably many others. I have been offended in this process too. Is the jury really in on this? It may be boldness or stupidity but I think it is reasonable to consider. I believe there is truth in this, yet I have an open mind. I present the information with the understanding that people can decide the merits of this on their own. I am not the only person that talks or writes about the divorce industry. It is discussed across the nation. Is it a bad rap? I don't know. Are attorneys guilty until proven innocent? Like parents, I suspect there are some who are in it for the money. You are not likely one of them and I apologize.
As a Denver Post Columnist wrote, "It needs to be emphasized that the family bar, sometimes called the divorce bar, opposed HB 1190 (shared parenting) precisely because it posed a threat to the divorce industry. That group includes divorce lawyers, the special advocates who advise the court, the social service agencies that often get involved, the judges who issue orders and the assorted medical and psychological professionals who are sometimes consulted. The divorce industry operates, more or less, on the "Send money, honey" principle -- the father should send monthly child support checks to the mother and typically expect to see his offspring every other weekend".
Recently, I was told by one attorney who use to be in family law that I probably shouldn't have gone there, yet he recognized that "money" was an important consideration and that it is a viable assumption considering the deep-rooted opposition from Attorney David Braun - Child Support Enforcement. In my opinion, Mr. Braun's arguments were not related to what is beneficial for children.
I have heard so many stories of how much parents have spent for attorneys and yes, I can speak from experience as well. $15,000 and they are talking about spending another $15,000? I hear some judges order home studies and, all things being equal, disregard the report (I've heard two so far just in the last couple weeks). It seems like separation or divorce opens up a person's life and their privacy to complete investigation in order to prove they are a good parent. We don't do this to married folks - why divorced folks?
I realize family law is difficult and understand your appreciation for parents that agree. I appreciate what my attorney went through in my situation. I have heard from some attorneys who refuse to do family law because they are burnt out on the injustices they see in the court room.... like spending 5 hours in court just to get a father an extra evening "visit" with his children. I have also heard from two parents who had equal shared parenting and then the mother "heard" about the incentives of being the primary custodial parent, contacted an attorney and they went for it. I have experienced this as well. The mother now has physical custody and the father has the standard guidelines. The child loses.
I have heard from parents who told me the first thing they were asked by the attorney was how much money they make. I have heard from parents whose attorneys fight to the death to win custody for their client or do nothing and charge big bucks. I have experience that as well. And how often does an attorney talk to the children? I don't know. I do know that I have worked with children who yearn for their limited non-custodial parent parent. I noted that most of the children I worked with in the school did not have a strong relationship with the noncustodial parent.
I believe parents are spending way too much money they do not have on "industry costs" to "get custody". Not because they are bad parents (and we know some are). I believe it is because the system breeds competition and chooses one parent over the other. The law presumes one parent is better than the other and this opens the door for more hostility (than what is already natural in the divorce process). In my case, the only reason for not having shared parenting was because my ex spouse would not agree to it and I didn't want to go to court to fight for the sake of my children (and to keep my sanity). I kept negotiating for equal shared custody without success and my children lost. Some people fight as they believe they are just as important to a child as their spouse is and are good parents for their children. I believe they should fight with the current system and I should have too. These people have a right to be angry with this system. These decrees are written in stone and one parent and one parent only has the power to "give" some more time between the one child and the other at their convenience. You set a standard guideline schedule for a parent at separation and that is where it will stay. The presumption is there and is practiced, despite what the law says. Share the power and wonderful things can happen for the children (and the parents).
This tells me there is a problem with our system and understandably so. Clearly there was a problem in Wisconsin as well, and they chose shared parenting. Shared parenting has been in California for years. and the list goes on.
The day I see an attorney tell their client that they are able to maximize their parenting time with their children if they are fit, able and willing ---- and the attorney helps them to do it, is the day I will believe that "money" is not an important consideration for them and their practice. You see, I believe attorneys have the ability, working together to turn the hostilities around in many families -- yet they don't. My attorney tried to but the incentive was too strong on the other side for winning custody.
I understand experience. I also understand that our society is changing and experiences can become obsolete over time. Experience should also tell them that the system needs to change. What is the reason for more and more family law attorneys getting out of this business? They are likely burnt out on experiences.
Bias and prejudice - now that's unfortunate but true.
As a trained scientist-practitioner (psychologist/school psychologist), I appreciate and consider anecdotal information as important (within the realm that a problem exists) , I put more stock in information from studies, research and experts in the field. Experience does not equal "expert" if you are not learning from those experiences and keeping up with the current happenings in the field.
From what I see, shared parenting is good for children, even if parents have conflict between them (not obvious high levels of course). Heck, there's conflict in married families too. As long as they can reasonably work out a specific schedule, minimize the time they have to be near each other (e.g. fewer transitions), and be responsible and consistent parents in each of their homes, the children will thrive (as much as they can after a divorce). It is recognized that this "parallel parenting" is similarly as beneficial as low conflict shared parenting. The key is that parents care for and are as involved as they can be with their children. My point is, my reference is primarily based upon recent current research, studies and current experts in the field of children, supported by experience and information gathered from others. I think I am fairly objective. And then there is clinical judgment...
I would appreciate hearing from you regarding this and I hope you have a good understanding of where I am coming from. I look forward to further feedback from you.... or others.