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NO, I’M NOT DIVORCED. MARRIED, HAPPILY, WOULD BEST DESCRIBE MY wife and me. So when I was approached with a documentary on divorce, I began thinking about those in my life who had been through divorce and all of the accompanying stress they sometimes dealt with for years. At the same time, divorce seemed like familiar territory. I’ve spent three decades listening to people in a variety of personal crises. I know a lot about addiction and toxic relationships, as well as what it takes for people to heal and move on with their lives. Very little shocks me. But when I was asked to narrate the movie Divorce Corp., I popped it into my DVD player, and was simply blown away.
If a hospital routinely made its patients sicker, it would be shut down. The doctors and nurses would be sued for malpractice and maybe even lose their licenses. Even the patients who seemed fine would have recourse—their own bill of rights, for starters, and hopefully the common sense to get a second opinion and see what previous patients had to say about their experiences, good or bad.
Family courts were envisioned in the late 1960s as hospitals for sick marriages. Each court was supposed to provide its own kind of rehab, making it easier for families to heal. These courts were even stocked with an ample supply of psychologists and psychiatrists who would diagnose their “patients” and deliver their “scientific” opinions as to the best course of action. Aside from these noble intentions, family courts are, in every other sense, the opposite of their medical counterparts. They and their practitioners, armies of lawyers, judges and “friends of the court,” routinely leave families in more conflict than when they started. They also bankrupt moms and dads at an astonishing rate and engender an increasing amount of violence. Whatever the end result, the court’s practitioners wash their hands and assure us that everything they do is automatically in the “best interests of the child,” a catch-all phrase that allows them to quash criticism, oversight, and most of the constitutional rights we assume, like the rights to an attorney, an appeal, a fair and speedy trial, and even free speech. For the record, I believed this last right was absolute. But it is not available in family court. Buy the book to read more…