Is Our Family Court System Causing Blood in the Streets? by Judy Parejko, M.S.

© 2002 Judy Parejko

Stolen Vows

Reproduced with permission of the author


 

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Robert Flores walked onto the campus of the University of Arizona at Tucson and opened fire on three of his female instructors, murdering them in cold blood. In his 22-page letter, discovered later by investigators, Flores sketches the story of his failed marriage, poor health and the slights he perceived from a nursing school he claimed treated male students as "tokens."

In the Washington area, accused sniper, John Muhammad, targeted innocent people, shooting them down like prey. His 17-year-old accomplice, John Malvo, was also believed to have pulled the trigger. The story reveals at least three divorces — two were Muhammad's and one was Malvo's parents — as well as several child custody battles.

It's not politically correct to connect the dots but it's time for someone to begin. Could it be that our family court system is causing blood in the streets? Somehow, these men came unhinged — turned into killers. Why? That's the question we all want answered. A common theme running through both cases is alienation from family. Could it be time to take a good hard look at how we handle cases in family court? Can we afford not to?

"Failed marriage" is code for "hopelessness" — the understanding that quick-and-expedient divorce is firmly in place. In fact, there's no way to stop a divorce or get help for a troubled marriage, including the anger that can be so corrosive to relationships no matter how hard someone begs for it. And "child custody" is code for the coveted spoils of divorce. The court's work is to sever family ties and the unforeseen consequences can sometimes be deadly.

A family court hearing is a grim event. While most who are forcefully divorced or shut out of their kids' lives somehow learn to cope, others begin to simmer, reaching a boiling point that can culminate in regrettable acts. Dismantling families — taking them apart and dividing up the pieces — is easier than providing needed help so that estranged spouses might restore their troubled marriages. And, by dealing with family distress in this way, we've unwittingly invited the grim reaper to play a larger role in our lives.

The carnage of family breakdown is spilling out of the courtrooms and into our daily lives. The victims are no longer simply family members — gunned down by their desperate loved ones — but increasingly include innocent bystanders.

The divorce mill casts its victims aside, leaving men like Flores and Muhammad unmoored from their families and unhitched from society. Cut off, lost at sea, they send out distress signals through their aggressive acts when life starts closing in on them — but no one heeds them. And when the "system" told Muhammad — like so many other men — he could no longer be a father, even if he fought for it, battled for custody and went so far as to "steal" his kids, he snapped.

The story of Muhammad's unraveling from a family man into a serial killer is not understood yet, but his story, like others, points to an alarming association between the loss of family connection and outlaw-behavior.

"Family court" is a euphemism. In reality it is an insidious monster that takes chopped-up pieces of families and packages them into neat and manageable little bundles called "custody" and "visitation." But, we reap what we sow, and blood spilled in court is leading to bloodshed in the streets.

What we have is the worst possible response to family distress. Instead of offering compassion and helping hands, family courts evict fathers from their children's lives, also cutting off contact with the ones who might — along with skilled assistance — calm such troubled men. The "medicine" for distressed relationships is available but we fail to offer it, either because we don't care enough or because we aren't ready to face the awful truth of what was created in the name of justice.

For those who face the family court system and hope for a humane response, no plea for mercy will be heard. "One size fits all" is the current scheme called "no-fault divorce" — another euphemism, which really is code for "forced" divorce. Troubled marriages are snuffed out by officials in black robes who say they are given no other choice. This place called "court" was turned into a "Ministry of Divorce" since making "judgments" are no longer made there and divorces are "administered" as rubber-stamped foregone conclusions.

Divorce and family disputes are merely viewed as "legal" problems — business-deals brokered by the well-paid officials handling them. No crisis-response is offered to the casualties that show up. No ambulance. No trauma team. No hospital. Only harsh and heavy-handed tactics used to finish off the job.

It's too sordid to look at things this way — that family court carnage might be responsible for the carnage on the streets — and most people will find every reason not to.

 

Judy Parejko is the author of Stolen Vows, The Illusion of No-Fault Divorce and the Rise of the American Divorce Industry – available at www.stolenvows.com.

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| EJF Home | Join the EJF | Comments? | Get EJF newsletter | EJF Newsletters |

| Courts, Veteran Courts, And Civil Liberties | Contents | Index |

 

| Chapter 1 — Our Dysfunctional Courts |

| Next — Judicial Bias(?) – How It Works and How To Defend Against It by Zed McLarnon |

| Back —The Criminalization Of Fatherhood by Stephen Baskerville, Ph.D. |


 

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Last modified 9/5/14