Thursday, September 15, 2005

C is for Crushing Injustice

I wonder if anyone who is not a divorced man or support-paying father who has run up against the system, can even begin to comprehend the truly crushing level of injustice at every level in our family court system.

The numbers just don't do it 'justice'.

I mean, you know that women win the vast majority of custody cases, (~38% of men have NO custody, and 77% of the remainder get no time with their children because the courts won't enforce visitation) and that women much more rarely pay any kind of support when they are the higher-earning spouse (~30% of custodial fathers receive support vs ~80% of custodial mothers). And so on, and on, and on....

But until you have gone through it, you just can't appreciate the true, insidious nature of it all.

You might assume that the judges don't enforce the more abusive portions of the law, and provide leeway for men.

And to a small degree, you would probably be right. The law allows for men who are in arrears to be just thrown in jail, but I suspect generally that if you are making payments, they are unlikely to do that, ...well, except for short periods of time to try and shake down your parents, spouses, adult children and friends for extra money for your ex.

But what you can't appreciate until you are there is how every decision, and every step will be tilted in your ex-wife's favor, not just the standard stuff, but mid-size stuff, the big stuff, and the little stuff, every step of the way.

The courts will claim that they are being 'fair'. But mostly 'fair' means giving your ex's lawyer a 'strict talking to' when she violates a court order for the 4th, 5th, and 6th time, and then turning and burdening you with her legal fees for your efforts to enforce the court's orders.

On the legal fees, first you will be told that they are the responsibility of the spouse 'with the ability to pay', and then you will be told it is because you did something wrong, and then the judge will start just making stuff up... ...and you will still be paying (whoops, building up arrears) once you loose ability to pay, and irregardless of the merit of your motions. And the court will give you 10 to 30 days to pay your ex's legal fees. -At best. But mostly they won't throw you in jail if you pay something.

And don't annoy the court by trying to 'enforce your rights' beyond the minimum. (Uh, who said you had rights? They lied.) If you appeal, and they determine it is frivolous they will hit you with penalties. -And in California, they can even penalize you for more than $10,000 for bringing appeals with merit, -they admit it. A penalty of $13,000 was levied in this case, in which a man was appealing being thrown out of his own house, where he was the sole occupant, per an ex-parte order from his wife, claiming that he was 'immediate threat to other occupants'. Perhaps he was frightening his goldfish. His wife then moved in and argued that she 'should be awarded primary custody since she and the kids were living in the house' - while the husband was an unfit parent living in his car.

Every step of the way, you will be punished, and your ex-wife will be coddled. Orders mean nothing when it comes to her. Perjury is ignored. Malicious behavior, fraud, theft, it might as well not have happened. Same with violence against you. She is, after all, the woman.

If you have any property (cars, house, motorcycle... anything), the sherriff will seize them pursuant to the liens on them for your arrears and penalties, and your ex's legal fees and auction them.

Meanwhile, without a trial, your pay will be garnished to 60% or 65% (convicted criminals aren't docked more than 10%), and you will be told that you will have a chance to appear at an ability to pay hearing to adjust this that is months away. Don't worry about eating or paying rent in the meantime. The court sure won't.

If you aren't living in a car already (either a junker not worth towing for auction or not your own), it is because someone has taken you in, or is protecting you from homelessness. Otherwise perhaps you give up, and become one of the lost men, the wandering homeless men who can't set down roots anywhere, or hold a real job, because they are, in fact, now fugitives by the definitions of the Bradley Amendment and the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act.

Right now someone is reading this who hasn't gone through it and saying: "This guy has gone off the deep end." Perhaps you need to see the sad, defeated look on my face as I type. The slump to my shoulders. If I was telling you this, mostly my voice would be low, I would be glancing at the floor, ashamed that I am in this position, the victim, the one who has no rights.

You would see how it affects men to be treated like this - we think: "...somehow, this must be my fault, that I am in this position, that I have nothing, no property, no real income that I can keep, no rights - it must be my fault, that I am a peon, an outcast, a slave in the land of the free."

-No, this isn't a rant, its sad testimony.

There are a few unfortunate and small lessons to be learned. When you fight your ex-wife in court, whenever you appear in court, you are 'fighting city hall'. Avoid doing it where possible. No matter how evil your ex is, she probably is incapable of being as systematically evil as the court system is. Remember the court system is used to dealing with murderers and rapists, pursuing them across the country and imprisoning them - and you are worse than all those, you are an ex-husband. You WILL be treated worse. Try not to take it 'personally', -it isn't your fault; you were born a man.

All my best to you in your struggles...


simulposted on M is for Malevolent


Blogger Tom Swanson said...

Great post. . . . I feel that way everyday.

9/15/2005 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger One man said...

Yes, great. I'm glad I found you.

9/15/2005 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger MisAnDrope said...

Thanks for the positive comments.
Some days are tougher than others :) Today I have to fire my lawyers, because the truth is that they can't do anything, and I can't afford them anymore anyway. Joy.


9/16/2005 07:02:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Swanson said...

After three lawyers over a three period, and $30,000 USD later I came to that same conclusion as well.

And I thought it was just me at the time. . . . ?

9/16/2005 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger One man said...

I fired my laywer and did better without him.

9/16/2005 10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rest assured the family court is making activists out of men not otherwise politically inclined. The family court is men's equivalent of "wymmin's studees" classes, churning out thousands and thousands of men's rights advocates a year.

9/16/2005 07:49:00 PM  
Blogger One man said...

LOL So true

9/16/2005 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

So what do we do? Blogging about it doesn't do much. We need fundamental reform of family court system. How do we organize? Who's gonna lead it?

I'm ready to put my money, time and energy into a knock down drag out fight.

9/18/2005 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger One man said...

Mark, help me prepare a voting guide. We will tell the people that don't have the time to research candidates whom to vote for and against. If we can influence the vote then things will change. Check out the voting guide as it stands. Any contributions are welcome. I think I recognize you. Maybe you would like to join HMP? Contact me a

9/18/2005 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger MisAnDrope said...

I agree that the voting guide is a key item. We also need to agressively persue public attention, perhaps not bat-man outfits, but perhaps letters to the editor and senators. Petitions? Do they do any good?

Maybe I could create a petition for 'Due Process for Men'. Sounds like another post.

All my Best,

9/19/2005 05:31:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Swanson said...

I'm curious Mark, did you go to the Child Support Workgroup meeting at Seattle Town Hall on Monday?

9/21/2005 06:56:00 AM  

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