The Predatory Family Court Environment
The long-term effects of parental alienation on children are well documented. Studies have shown that adult children who endured parent alienation suffer low self-esteem, self-hatred, abandonment issues, lack of trust, depression, and are more likely to have substance abuse or addictions. As young adults, many lose the capacity to give and accept love from trusted figures. Self-hatred is particularly disturbing, as children tend to internalize the hatred targeted toward the alienated parent, and begin to believe that the alienated parent did not want or love them.
If one wishes to claim that the best interests of children are front and center during custody disputes, why do legislators cling to laws and policies that greatly reward uncooperative, selfish, dishonest, and often stunningly ruthless behavior?
It should be common sense that if society really wants what’s best for children and families, government should utilize the family court as an intervention to prevent the escalation of conflict and bad behavior and redirect the focus toward cooperation and healthier goals for families.
The truth is, family law policy has nothing to do with the welfare of children, and has everything to do with using them as leverage to harvest money.
Welp, it’s time to expose lies……
The Family Court Industry:
According to the Huffington Post, in the U.S. the average cost of a high-conflict divorce involving custody is around $78,000.
Note that this merely the cost associated with arriving at the first permanent orders, and does not include any on-going litigation costs relating future motions for additional child support, re-evaluations of custody orders, on-going problems with parental alienation, re-unification schemes, or any new or additional false allegations made down the road.
As a practical matter, there are no permanent orders where children are concerned, so for lawyers, family investigators, guardian ad litems, private investigators, supervised parenting providers, child therapists, re-unification therapists, parenting coordinators….(the list goes on)….family conflict, parental alienation, and false allegations are an incredibly lucrative source of business.*
Seventy or eighty grand is a lot of money, and since many parents just don’t have it, they end up being marginalized or eliminated from the lives of their children. And if even if they do have that kind of extra wealth, that’s money that can be used, for example, to fund the college educations of one or more children in a household. This of course begs the question: Whose interests are really being served here?
An adversarial legal environment is not in the best interests of children, but is in the best interests of the family court industry whose bread is buttered by manufacturing, stimulating, and preserving conditions of parental conflict over children.
In the U.S., Federal Title IVD bonuses and incentives to states (Social Security Act, Title IV, Part D, Section 458 “Incentive Payments to States” not only reward states for collecting delinquent child support payments, but actually incentivize states to maximize the amount of child support payments they administer; regardless of whether noncustodial parents are current or in arrears or whether the support order is reasonable.
Importantly, because child support payments are in most cases a function of the amount of time a non-custodial parent has with their children (i.e., fewer overnights for the NCP means a higher child support order), there is an incentive to minimize or eliminate noncustodial parenting time because it increases child support obligations, and thereby enhances potential federal funding and bonus revenue.
This is not in the best interests of children, but it is in the best interests of states seeking federal funding.
Every year in the U.S., equal shared parenting bills are introduced in virtually every state by well-intentioned legislators who understand that it’s far healthier to for both children and families to incentivize cooperation between parents rather than conflict, provide children with opportunities to have an active and meaningful relationship with both parents, and ensure that custody orders are actually enforced by family court judges.
And every year these bills die in committee or on floor votes as the American Bar Association sends out an army of family court industry insiders to lobby politicians against this kind of legislation because equal shared parenting law will devastate their industry.
Estimates are that the Family Court Industry rakes in somewhere between $60 and $80 billion each and every year, so the family court industry has a lot to lose from changes to family law, and politicians have a lot to gain by trading child well-being for family court industry campaign financing.
This is not in the best interests of children, but it is in the best interests of politicians who wish to profit financially and politically from law that preserves an adversarial family court environment.
When there are no substantive penalties for parental alienation and false allegations, and when those behaviors are in fact rewarded, they become dominant strategies.
Strategic dominance occurs when one strategy is better than any other strategy for one agent, no matter what strategy their opponent utilizes. In other words, because parental alienation and false allegations are not sanctioned, they become the best strategy for a custodial parent to utilize when their goals is to punish, harm, or eliminate the other parent from the lives of their children.
This is not in the best interests of children, but it is in the best interests of parents seeking to obliterate the other parent while preserving and maximizing a child support order.
Family Court Judges:
Adversarial systems of family law are engineered to produce conflicts involving child custody, and it only takes one party to create conditions of noncooperation.
The investigation of false allegations and parental alienation can take years, and despite the overly broad discretion judges are awarded with the best interests of the children doctrine, parental alienation and fraudulent allegations of child abuse seem be outside their appetite to remedy.
Courts are busy, and our legal system is ill-equipped to manage the stress and harm divorce forces upon parents and children. Primary custody is usually awarded at the very beginning of custody litigation without much careful consideration, and essentially even after lengthy and expensive litigation, that’s where it is going to stay baring any future allegations of abuse.
The sad truth is, too many family court judges have little interest in custody disputes, let alone the problem of parental alienation. Most would prefer to take 15 minutes to hear a child support complaint, make a calculation, issue an order, and move on to the next case. So what they tend to do is bog custody cases down with lengthy and expensive litigation in an effort to create incentives for parents to give up. This of course, works just fine for the family court industry and even custodial parents, as they’re free to use child support to hire the legal resources they need to attack and eliminate the other parent.
For an alienating parent, having the other parent feed you with court-ordered child support income which you can then use to pay your lawyer is a pretty sweet deal.
This is not in the best interests of children, but it is in the best interests of family court judges under the current system.
Despite all the bluster, hand wringing, and seemingly exasperated public cries for parental cooperation and parent-child involvement from politicians, judges, attorneys, and family investigators, the truth is the family court environment has little actual concern for the welfare of children and their parents.
What we truthfully have is a legal system purposefully engineered to produce conflict over children and marginalize or eliminate one parent because that’s how the money is made; not just for custodial parents, but for a whole collection of self-interested players exploiting parent-child relationships for their own personal gain.
Parental alienation and the suffering caused by it exists in no small part because judges enable and empower it and the family court industry profits by encouraging or enabling it.
*For a startling expose on the indefensible amount of corruption, collusion, and abuse present within the family court industry, see the 2015 documentary Divorce Corp., viewable on both Netflix and YouTube.
Note: Not all family court lawyers and government officials are sleazy. There are some really good ones out there fighting for families and trying to change family law, but one should be careful.
If you’re on the lookout for a good lawyer or family investigator, or if you’d like to get involved with a political action group, we encourage you utilize our Forums and Discussion Boards by posting your questions and getting involved with the discussion!