Now that I am part of the divorce profession, people regularly tell me their divorce war stories. I get it. The psychological damage caused by a divorce lingers for years and “unloading” makes you feel better. Imagine then what it does to a child. It saddens and perplexes me that child custody, in particular, turns into a litigated battle when neither parent is a “bad” parent. Yesterday a woman told me she spent $70,000 on her divorce, most of which went towards a child custody battle. That $70,000 (or double that because her husband probably paid as much) could have gone towards the children, their care and their education. This was not a wealthy couple either.
It’s terrible that the family court system can be used as a weapon by one or both spouses, to get revenge or for misguided financial reasons, to the detriment of the children. In my opinion, in many cases this is poor attorney ethics, and it has helped give family law attorneys a bad name. Psychologists and therapists see the emotional harm litigation has on the family. I see the financial toll it takes on a family. I wonder if attorneys warn clients of the potential for the case to spiral out of control, like the woman’s case in my example. When one spouse tries to unfairly gain sole custody or denies child visitation, the typical reaction to to file a court action first.
I found a May 4, 2017 article in Psychology Today written by Mark B. Baer, Esq, to be very refreshing. It discusses what has happened to the family court system, what clients don’t know, and his approach to at least trying to avoid child custody litigation which I particularly like. I would, and will, recommend to anyone who has a spouse threatening or commencing a child custody action to insist that their attorney send the letter in Mr. Baer’s article.