– Is It Time For Change Essay, Research Paper
The topic of this essay “The Family Court System – Is it time for change?,” is one I am personally familiar with. I have been at the family court building and in court on numerous occasions, and from a personal and social perspective, I am very aware of the injustice and inequality that occurs in our family court system every day. I feel that the psychological stability of both parents is extremely important to the well being of a child, parents should not be discriminated against in regards to financial security and/or status, and legal representation and resources should be equal regardless of how either person is paying.
One off the major difficulties I have had in my experience with court is that circumstances and individual situations are not taken into consideration. As a result, the people who go to court are just “a number,” and are not fairly heard. As a result, most cases are ruled or determined with the same set of rules and guidelines for everybody. Personally, I find this very frustrating. For one thing, not everybody’s morals and values and parenting skills are equal. What some people
may consider normal, others may find completely unacceptable, or even abusive. In a court scenario, my definition of child abuse may be very different from a judge who has seen worse
case scenarios. For example, in my opinion berating or spanking a child by anyone other than the legal guardian is abusive, while a judge may consider that as normal discipline. Not to mention the fact that somebody who rarely sees the child shouldn’t have any reason to discipline…period. Therefore, yes sexual or physical abuse is very serious, but the psychological impact may be the same for a child who has suffered emotional or mental abuse from an unfit or psychopath parent.
In the previous example, it seems very obvious to me that all facts, no matter how trivial they may seem to a judge, should at any rate be heard. I truly feel that personality and personal parenting skills are very related to a child’s best interests and/or well being. Our justice system unfortunately does not recognize or accept this, and the legal aid system does not cover psychological testing unless the parent has been physically or sexually abusive. In addition, what a parent has done to the family is irrelevant. The outcome will still be the same…both parents have equal rights to a child regardless of past or present circumstances.
The reason this point is so important to me is because of some severe things my ex-common-law-husband Tom did to my son Stephen and me. Firstly, he had numerous affairs. In court this is completely acceptable, but the fact that he risked my life thereby leaving my son motherless, is disregarded. Secondly, he abandoned us and stole the family savings. Consequently, I was destitute and could not afford even the bare essentials for my 1 year old son; not to mention heat, electricity, rent, etc. In addition, when I begged him for help I was verbally abused. Thirdly, he has done everything in his power to either destroy me mentally, emotionally and financially. On this note, I think it is important to say that although he seems to enjoy hurting me for unknown reasons, his main goal was to try to force me out of the trailer because he had
nowhere to live after his parents kicked him out, and he wanted custody of the baby so he wouldn’t have to pay child support. Lastly, he has and continues to harass and threaten me.
Now, I am not a judge, but I feel these acts (and countless others) obviously point to a person who has some pretty serious psychological problems. I know (and Dr. Parrot agrees), that Tom is a narcissist, which falls under the psychopath personality disorder. I understand that some people handle stress differently than others, but in my case these behaviors were completely unwarranted and were actually unforseen. I was a wonderful wife, and do the best I possibly can with my son. What Tom has done was undeserving, and I sincerely wouldn’t wish him on my worst enemy.
Also, in relation to things judges should take into account when making their final ruling, is that parenting roles and behaviors before and after a break-up should be taken into consideration. In my case, Tom or his family did not want to share in the responsibility of raising the baby, and it was never an issue (before now) how often they saw him. In fact, it was the other way around. On numerous occasions my mother or I would ask them to babysit, etc., and the answer was always “no”, or they had some excuse why they couldn’t. Therefore, parent’s shouldn’t automatically get equal rights. These rights should reflect the parental investment of each parent.
Another thing I feel occurs in our society is more favorable outcomes to the person with the most financial security. Therefore, the justice system implies that financial stability outweighs the relative security of a loving, safe, healthy and secure environment. My ex can afford a $150.00 /hr. lawyer, and I have Legal Aid. This scenario has had two repercussions. Tom’s lawyer works harder at representing him because he has to earn his paycheck, and although it may be coincidental judges have appeared to listen more attentively to Tom’s lawyer. Secondly, my
lawyer has so many clients and is so overworked, I have not received the time with him I need. On the other side, Tom’s lawyer has all the time in the world for him because he is being billed
hourly. In the former scenario, I feel that I am being discriminated against. My family does have money, but I am trying to be a mature, responsible adult so I have tried not to involve them in my problems. Plus, even though I may be less financially secure than Tom, I provide very well for my son. Although I am a single mother, I have managed to keep a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, clothes on our back, we live in a warm house, and we actually lead a very active and fun life. Every cent I have is spent on providing for Stephen, and hopefully giving him an exciting, memorable childhood with as many experiences as possible. Tom on the other hand, absolutely refuses to provide anything for Stephen, and has contributed nothing.
Finally, I would like to briefly discuss the difficulty I have had (compared to Tom) in getting a trial date. It took me 1.5 years to get our court date that is scheduled for May 6, 1999. During this time, I have had about 7 intake appointments, I have had 2 lawyers, and for about 4 months wasted time with mediation (Tom kept rescheduling or not showing up). So finally, I have my court date. On the other hand, it took Tom 1 week to get an emergency hearing (which resulted from me not letting Tom take the baby on one occasion because I was desperate for money, and he refused to give me Stephen’s child support). As a result of this, I got in trouble. Apparently, parental contribution and parental rights are completely unrelated. I honestly agree with this, but I still feel their should be a happy medium. Also, I think it is fair to expect both parents to contribute to the upbringing of a child…no matter what. In this case, I feel that the parent with sole custody is discriminated against. If I didn’t feed my child or splurge on medicine he needed, I would be severely chastised. Possibly even losing custody of my child. This is not the case for the man, he is allowed by law not to pay for anything concerning his child. In myopinion, it should be law that both parents should be equally responsible for providing for the child, regardless of who the custodial parent is, and that they should do everything in their power
to ensure that this is always the case. For example, if the furnace breaks down, or the child needs medicine, his response shouldn’t be “oh well, not my problem”, when this obviously affects the welfare and general well being of the child.
I could write a book on my dealings with my ex and his family, court, lawyers, etc. but I think I got my main points across. Our judicial system, namely Family Court, definitely has flaws and unfortunately some families have been hurt by them. I understand that the courts are over booked, and the judges are overworked, but I still feel that changes could be made to improve the system. As a summary, because I feel that all aspects and details of a case should be heard, perhaps an unbiased person (ie. A mediator or psychologist) could present the judge with a brief synapse of events and situations that have occurred. As well, these events and their perceived severity and/or repercussions should be discussed by both parents. Although my lawyer did a pretty good job of getting a lot of the things that have happened in my affidavit, we were still unable to relate a lot of things. Personality traits and behaviors are directly related to the well-being of any child. For example, I don’t feel that a pathological liar is a very good influence on any child. Therefore, I feel that psychological testing should be mandatory for both parents. Their have been bad mothers that probably shouldn’t have gotten custody (or at least equal rights), and I feel that any parent who has psychological problems (male or female) can have very detrimental effects on their offspring. In a perfect world, their would be no need for lawyers, and court proceedings would be an open forum. All parties could speak their mind using verbal and/or written communication, and a psychologist or therapist could provide and in-depth evaluation.