Six years ago when I tried to leave my abusive husband, I believed that the legal system was a professionally governed organization where my rights and my property would be protected. I went into family court believing in my history teacher’s promises that we live in a land and have a government whose words, “And Justice For All” are backed up with our justice system and the laws of our land. I also knew that I could be found dead if I did not escape this man. Since my family court experience, I now know that there is no justice in family court and in fact there is extreme injustice and the laws of the land are applied only and possibly if you have enough money to take the case to appellate court as Family Court is a special court (a court of law) that is not a court of equity.
Court of law verses a court of equity.
Family court is a court of law, not a court of equity (where the court will provide a remedy). This is important for survivors to understand. We have been seeking remedy in a court of law, family court. The professionals in the business, do not tell us that we will not get remedy in this court. They tell us that we must go to Family Court and they sell us a bill of goods, using our state of despair and helplessness to make money. In a court of equity, there is a jury of peers who will listen to the facts. There is no jury of peers in Family Court, there is only one judge who does not understand the dynamics of domestic violence. The judge is the sole trier of the facts and is given the authority to make decisions that affect the survivor’s family, financial, physical, emotional, and mental health. Some individuals have said that the judge does not even read the file, s/he leaves that chore up to the clerk, and the clerk and the attorneys make the decision for you. Many lawyers feed the fire of what they term a “high conflict divorce” (meaning a divorce from a personality disordered individual), to line their pockets and after you have finished, the attorneys and the system (who have all knowledge of your financial information) know that you do not have the money to appeal the judge’s decision to a higher court. Behind closed doors, this is communicated to all parties and your fate is then sealed. You are stuck with this decree. Needless to say, if you have children, this court decree becomes a double-edged sword that cuts you and also your children.
While I do not advise people to stay with abusive mates, I cannot advise survivors to trust family courts and all the professionals who benefit from family court. This is another double edged sword, you are cut both ways. If you stay, you will suffer and perhaps lose your life. If you leave, you may save your life physically, but your children will be forced (by the court of law) to live without your protection with an abusive parent and you will give away all of your finances (and the finances of your family) to protect yourself and your children. Family court will order by the law, remember they are not a court of equity, where a jury of peers will look at the whole environment and make recommendations that are equitable.
Family court is a court of law and the law states that a parent does not have to be a good parent to have parental rights. Of course if you try to protect your children, then you are alienating the children from the other parent. The court of law may decide to take the children from you and give them to Foster Care or to the abusive parent to preserve the rights of the abusive party.
Is abuse too profitable?
These facts are evident to all concerned, but sadly ignored because the profit is so great to the players involved in this business of terror. Why hasn’t the system changed? Why is there no media coverage? Could it be that this system is profitable to lawyers, judges, dcs, cps, clerks, domestic violence shelters, victim advocates, guardians, psychologists, expert witnesses, etc? Our elected officials are lawyers and media companies follow the advice of their lawyers. The American Bar is a private body comprised of lawyers. Is it too much about profit and not about the protection of children and families?
Victims of abuse are not aware of the injustice until they step into the court room with an abusive partner and begin to realize that the Family Court is a playground where the disordered can manipulate all the players. The players will not change the system because they have those mortgages that need to be paid and profits to be made. The judges will not speak up, because the attorneys will not fund their elections. The devastation of families and children are ignored perhaps because it is too profitable for the court system.
What are those of us who have suffered left to do?
We have become survivors of a dysfunctional organization and many of us suffer with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Depression and Anxiety. If we did not develop PTSD surviving in our relationships with a disordered individual, we will develop PTSD when exposed to a system that is set up to punish and keep us exposed to trauma. Your attorney will threaten to withdraw and drop you (especially) when you begin to challenge the attorney about the game being played with your life and your children. The attorney expects that their bill is paid, even the trumped up charges. The Bar of you state will claim you have no claim against the attorney, just pay the bill. The bar tends to pat the team player attorneys on the back for doing a good job and not challenging the dysfunctional system.
I believe that all we can do is keep challenging the validity of this system, writing, talking to others, counseling, presenting reality to others and asking all to support a change to this system. Are the states who insist that we divorce in this type of court responsible? Perhaps Family Court needs to become a court of equity. Some survivors are suggesting that If there is any domestic violence, (also financial assault by any party), the case must be heard in criminal court with a jury making the court a court of equity. A jury will then decide your fate, not a judge or a clerk who wants you to return and keep financially supporting their lifestyle.
Those professionals involved in this system need to stop turning their heads to the rape and assault of American citizens and families. If you have been raped by the family court system, keep talking and sharing your story. I wish that I had the opportunity to have heard your stories before I entered this court of injustice that permitted more abuse and financial violence. I would have been safer financially and physically if I had avoided hiring the attorneys that I hired. These attorneys were not even remotely aware of all facts of my case, they were only interested in what money was available to pay large fees to continue the game of injury and the transfer of wealth to their trust funds.
There was more justice when I was able to present the evidence to the court and file pro se. If you file pro se, you will have to learn the laws and I recommend that you have a disability advocate with you. This is important because in the presence of your abuser, you may become symptomatic and will need support. The court claims that the pro se litigant clogs the system, but perhaps this is a system that should be clogged.
Perhaps another avenue is to file civil charges for damages. A very serious damage is the formation of complex Post Traumatic Stress due to the legal abuse. You may want to check out attorneys who litigate brain injuries.
Are there many attorneys who will dare challenge the system and become a whistleblower? I’d like to see a national foundation set up to challenge and assist those who have been injured. I humbly ask those of you who know of solutions please write, share your voice and help those of us who are still in shock from the legal abuse perpetrated by the family court system. We must help each other, because we do not have the assistance from the legal system, victim advocates, our legislators, or the media.