We have a problem in the arena of divorce and custody. We have a system that is not impartial and often serves as a breeding ground for disingenuous and unethical actions committed by players in the legal arena and sometimes (knowingly and unknowingly) enabled by the very courts people believe will determine fact from fiction. Many fathers have an uphill challenge awaiting them as they seek what many others before the law and courts seek … fairness and the right to be heard.
For many fathers, opposing parties often go through the laundry list of stunts and questionable litigation tactics using children as pawns. In my own ordeal in New York, I often called out the dirty tricks directly and even alerted the Judge of a particular incident of perjury in direct correspondence to chambers. However, I learned that courts in divorce and custody look the other way in instances of perjury and that the often used legal jargon cited in affidavits, depositions, declarations and testimony with language stating things like “under penalty of perjury” are proven to be empty, powerless and without weight.
I had the unique experience, where I both had attorney representation and represented myself as a pro se litigant when the funds ran out and debts increased. My exposure in law and politics gave me faith that the judicial system wouldn’t ultimately reward dishonesty and unethical practice. I was soon to realize the sad truth in how wrong my belief was!
Nothing in these ordeals for dads are easy, and mine exposed a lazy court system unwilling to review evidence and a corrupt matrimonial bar where both entities punish and criminalize many men for being good fathers who seek fairness and equal time in the lives of their children. The court is a breeding ground where good ol’ boy network thrives and profits at the expense of parents becoming adversaries and children being hurt. Much of the litigation and courtroom drama are orchestrated events, I know firsthand as I often documented my predictions and time stamped them prior to court hearings and meetings with all parties where I was accurate in detail as to what would play out most times.
While documenting and cataloging everything in my own case my broader concern was that not many fathers (and mothers many times as well) have the tenacity or persistence to speak out on the issues and unethical processes that transpire in and around the court. This is exactly what opposing adversarial attorneys and some judges count on, fatigue, and that most people will give up and submit to unfavorable outcomes. This enables lawyers and parties the ability to lie to the court, file false allegations and commit unethical actions because the person on the receiving end, more times than not, is playing it clean and being the more truthful party. This is so of the point where a father’s character sustains so much damage with deceitful motion practice played out against you for the purpose of leverage tactics, threats of contempt, and protective orders all filed at you based on disingenuous substance and falsehoods. This is designed to try and assassinate a person’s character and leave a bad first impression of you on a judge all while putting you in a place where it seems impossible and overly complicated to counter the damage done.
It is “overwhelming.” especially when dealing with the challenges and turmoil of major life changes, but that’s how they get away with it all. People often get to this point where countering it all seems hopeless and that’s when the other side comes in with a settlement that rewards the side who is often unethical, better financed and aggressive while the other party learns honesty doesn’t pay and just wants their life back and to escape a system that criminalized them for being truthful and sincere. As a father you aren’t supposed to make it 10 rounds or “challenge the system”, so that all the lies, hearsay narrative and disingenuous filings against you get washed away at a settlement and never see the light of day under “impartial” judicial scrutiny that would expose the situation for what it is….a work of fiction and bully tactics.
The amazing thing with these lawyers in the matrimonial bar that no one talks about much is how some decide how far to take a case. Once they have the net worth statements they know how much money their clients have and eventually how much the other side has and in litigation, there are ways to manipulate things so the lawyers can bill you out of a lot of money before a case ends at a certain point. There are patterns to watch for. The initial protective orders, the letter writing campaigns between lawyers (easy billable time for them) and all the needless motion filings and hearings (with hours waiting in the court), along with depositions and preparation time for all these things. Cases have stages and if the money is there some lawyers will make sure things progress to a certain point, damn the adverse effects these greedy motives have on the lives of the client and the other parent.
In my situation it was when I started representing myself and doing well to gather evidence and testimony that the aggressive and questionable tactics increased. Eventually, this all resulted in a bizarre circumstance where I was directly and indirectly threatened to agree to a resolution to things on the day we arrived at court for a hearing. These threats sent the message that I would either agree to all terms of my ex-spouse and her lawyer or faced a prospect of incarceration leaving me with the choice of picking out what color toothbrush I wanted! This is where so many fathers find themselves and next thing you know you are swearing to the Judge that you’re entering an agreement “not under threat” and learning the hard way that in courts dealing with divorce and custody the truth is never sought with much effort and is often a problem for the players in the industry.
In these ordeals where institutions are broken and, families put at risk whereby representation is only available in such a manner that one has the means to afford it, a parent always will need help and by all means, should ask for it. The price for not doing so is one most cannot fathom paying which is losing out on your role as a Dad, and moving forward with your life.