Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Family Courts, Irreconcilable Differences, and the Interests of Children

This op-ed out of Rhode Island presents some astonishing and frightening details about how family courts and laws making divorce "easier" actually operate. Although it goes against the grain of the usual conservative mantra that divorce and custody laws normally harm the rights of fathers more than those of mothers (and that creates a whole host of other social ills as a result of fatherlessness, etc., etc.) it offers an important perspective. The facts recounted here, have no real ax to grind. And, I think it actually gets to the heart of the real problem.

Does it really matter, in the end, whether it’s mothers or fathers who suffer most in the current system? I think it is safe to say that the real problem here is that the laws and the system we have created usually harm the children. None of this is to say that parents do not have rights when it comes to the rearing of their children, but when people abuse their rights they can forfeit them. The real problem seems to be a reluctance to present the facts of the cases before the court and deliver a judgment that passes judgment. We seem to be incapable of saying that bad things are bad and that people who do bad things ought to have fewer people worrying about their "rights" and more people worrying about the best interests of their childen.

Discussions - 1 Comment

I feel as though, because I am a lawyer, I should respond to this post. I’m having some difficulty, however, because I agree with much of what you say. I, unlike virtually all lawyers I know, am morally opposed to divorce, especially when kids are involved. Perhaps the whole problem could be solved if the courts were to come up with a rule that, except in cases of physical abuse and/or desertion, the parent who files for divorce files against the entire family and has no custody rights. But this is just moot rambling.

...astonishing and frightening details about how family courts and laws making divorce "easier" actually operate. Not really. Just some examples of how some people abused the system.

I think it is safe to say that the real problem here is that the laws and the system we have created usually harm the children. Absolutely correct. But until voices are heard as loudly decrying divorce on demand as those decrying abortion on demand, no changes will be initiated.

...when people abuse their rights they can forfeit them. Make that when people get caught abusing their rights they can forfeit them. It’s easy to take away the rights of one who abuses those rights. The difficult part is in figuring out who the rights abuser is. Is the allegation of rights abuse true or is the one making the allegation the real rights abuser, falsely accusing an innocent ex-spouse?

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