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 Father’s 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.
Over two years has passed since my daughter, who was 6 years old at the time, was snatched one day from her home by her mother (my Ex) and then sequestered at my Ex in-laws where I was prevented from seeing her. The night I came home from work in June 2012 expecting to kiss my kid goodnight she was gone and in her place a mountain of outrageous and disingenuous court filings attacking me as a parent, a father and threatening to take my daughter away.
Having a legal background, my trained eye saw the filings for what they were…old school intimidation tactics from a bulldog attorney looking to profit off of conflict by taking advantage of his own client and myself at a vulnerable time. My emotional side viewed these methods, and the authorization and blessing my Ex gave to give them life, with a sense of betrayal and shock. At no time did these intentionally malicious tactics intimidate or bully me as was the purpose of their design.
Over the years with this ordeal, the opposing party went through the laundry list of stunts and questionable litigation tactics using a child as a pawn for greedy motives and malicious intent. These actions only served to strengthen my resolve to stand up to the fiction and posturing. Often I would call out the dirty tricks directly and even alerted the Judge of a particular incident of perjury in direct correspondence to chambers….but I learned the 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.
During my own ordeal, 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 but still managed to obtain joint legal custody and almost 50% physical custody of my daughter. Nothing in this ordeal has been easy and it has exposed a lazy court system unwilling to review evidence and shed light on a corrupted matrimonial bar where both entities punish and criminalize many men for being good fathers who seek fairness and equal time in the live of their children.
The court is a breeding ground where a good ole boy network thrives and profits at the expense of parents becoming adversaries and children being hurt. Many of these ordeals are orchestrated events, I know because I often documented my predictions and time stamped them prior to court hearings and meetings with all parties where I accurately predicted what would happen and how things would transpire….I was pretty much on target most times.
My observations and chronicling of my own experience enabled me to document and capture the narrative to this ordeal in a manner like few are qualified to do while enduring it. My situation involves factual evidence in multiple streams validating what transpired with the lawyers, the opposing party and the court in this ordeal. Unlike so many fathers I have read about and spoken too….I am not intimidated by lawyers or Judges.
For over two years I had to keep quiet on so much of what went on, while documenting and cataloging everything. The broader concern I have in going through this is that not many fathers (and mothers many times as well) have the tenacity or persistence to keep going for many reasons and speak out on this issue and what goes on with people. That’s what opposing adversarial attorneys and some judges count on…fatigue and that most people will give up and submit to unfavorable outcomes.
These folks can 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. That is where your character sustains so much damage with deceitful motion practice played out against you for 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 your character and leave a bad first impression of you on some judges 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 the receiving end party 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.
Many opposing lawyers and several Judges don’t expect many fathers to go the distance and the longer you are persistent the more adversarial and aggressive they become. On top of that it’s not lost on these people that litigation is costly and the emotional stress wears people down where they don’t want to deal with the system anymore or the constant passive aggressive threats resulting in anxiety. So those people give up and stay quiet and deal with an outcome less then just or equitable and adverse to their child’s best interest while the court moves through their busy docket and the unethical lawyers go to the next client after milking as much as they can from the parties and a similar merry go round plays out for the next dad.
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), 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 affects these greedy motives have on the lives of the client and other parent.
My own situation was made much more frustrating because I was very aware of what tactics were playing out, how the other side was being manipulated by their own attorney and every time and instance where the opposition broke rules of professional conduct, was out of bounds during the depositions and what procedures and rules they were manipulating. The best analogy I can give for the two years in general…it was like I was awake and could see and hear what was going on around me and yet I couldn’t do anything to stop it regardless of my truthful and strongly supported filings, strong evidence meeting the burden of proof and being very upfront and honest even when it didn’t always make me look good in every situation.
In family court I was represented by an attorney and managed to get through okay but then was left in large debt and not much left for the next round of court. I then took over my case as a pro se litigant as I knew my skills with discovery and evidence would be stronger at that point then any attorney. At this stage things got very different and a bit concerning when interacting with the court and opposing counsel, it was clear self-representation was frowned upon even when I followed all the rules better then the opposition. In the Family Court we had a Judge who I felt clearly reviewed what was in front of her and did her very best to resolve issues fairly even if I didn’t fully agree with some of them.
When we left Family Court, the next round was in Supreme Court and with that a very different Judge and far different dynamic and set of external variables. At that juncture is when I did all my own corresponding with the court and opposing counsel, drafted all my own motions, responses and affidavits and prepared to both be deposed by opposing counsel during the first half of one day, then I turned around and deposed my Ex for the second half of the day….it was at this specific juncture when I did very well to prove my points, catch tons of inconsistencies and outright lies that, that very same day once the depositions concluded things would become more unethical and aggressive on their part….that was the price I paid for doing well at that stage and showing up an attorney who had decades of experience and underestimated my abilities to uncover the truth.
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 our trial.
What happened that day, and in swearing to the Judge that I was entering an agreement “not under threat”….well that was not entirely accurate….and as I learned the hard way, 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.
“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.“
Father’s Experience in Orange County, New York We have a problem in the arena of divorce and custody. We have a system that is not impartial and often bias… – Stephen Krasner – Google+