Civilize Family Law Now!


Can we act to make the maddening, the stressing, the enraging process of divorce more sensible, more civilized so fewer people are killed? Maybe.

First, replace “custody” and “visitation” from family law codes with “parenting plans.” Fourteen other states have already done so, but the California legislature rejected this change in 1989. This would also require a change in the forms for requesting divorce which now force a parent to as for “custody” and give the other “visitation.”

Second, separate parenting plans from property and support issues. The divorce process would be that when a person with children files a petition for dissolution of marriage, both parents are forthwith called in and assisted in writing up a parenting plan. Every court currently has mediation departments than can be adapted to this work. The people who are not capable of doing this would be assigned to an appropriate team of professionals who will work to achieve the best possible results on behalf of the children.

Third, parenting plans must be apart from child support. Presently, in California, the more time the higher earning spouse has with the children, the less that parent pays in child support. Or, conversely, the less time, the more money the other parent receives. This is a formula for induced conflict. This is not a formula for sensible parenting. What is good for the child’s life, not the parent’s, must be the motivation for a parenting plan.

It has been known for years that this divorce system damages people, especially children. In 2008, the California branch of an international and interdisciplinary organization of judges, psychologists, lawyers and others, The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, declared the treatment of children in family courts a “public health crisis.”

Since then, 12 other family-court related organizations have signed on to this resolution. The board of the California chapter declared, “there is a clear and present danger to the public health of the children of this State based on our society’s failure to adequately address the impact of child custody proceedings upon children as a chronic, system-wide, statewide, public health crisis which impacts the previous, current and future generations of California’s most precious resource–its children.”

But no one has yet done anything about systemic changes. “You can’t solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that created it,” said Albert Einstein. Well, duh! Obviously.

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.