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Debbie Burgin Headshot

Divorce Court; Really in the Best Interest of the Child?

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In my divorce process, I found myself in court on more than one occasion over the subject of child support. As is familiar in many divorce cases, child support was my number one gripe with "whatshisnose" (the ex). It didn't matter how many times we went to court to get this thing "handled," the outcome was always the same. "We'll revisit the issue here in three months." I left the courthouse crying out of sheer frustration on more than one occasion.

One day after one of my regular court visits, I was having a discussion with my lawyer (actually, there are no two ways about this one; it was more than a "discussion," I was bitching heavy), about the fact that I'd file papers, and we'd come to the courthouse God knows how many times a year, for the same damned thing, and what happened when I got there?? Nothing!! I can't tell you how many work days and hours of sleep I missed in the process of going to court for something that was supposed to be "routine." This particular time, when I filed papers for what was a government increase to the existing child support guideline, he actually checked the "yes" box beside, "Are you applying for custody of any minor children?" Simply to complicate the already complicated child support process, he was applying for full custody of our three children, who had been with me since day one. But if I withdrew my application for increased support, the custody issue would "go away," no questions asked. I was baffled.

Anywho...what my lawyer told me in this conversation, on this day put a screeching halt to my "visits" to the courthouse. What she said was this;

"Nothing happens in court unless you both agree.
The court will only enforce what he agrees to.
So if he doesn't agree to an increase in his
child support, we could do this for another
10 years...nothing will change. Period."

I was shocked, but can't honestly say that I was surprised that this nonsense could actually be true. So I decided, "You know what? If the money is more important to him than whether or not his kids eat, he can keep it. I'll figure this out for myself." And I decided that because the court didn't appear to be particularly concerned about whether or not my children ate either, I needed to think about how I was going to move forward in such a way that neither "whatshisnose" nor the court would have the power to make that determination for my family again.

Here's the bottom line: The law says that the primary concern of the divorce/family court system is "what is in the best interest of the children", but I can tell you firsthand (as I'm sure can many, many others) that it is not. Women with custody of minor children typically get screwed financially in divorce, while men typically get hosed when it comes to custody issues. It's that simple. The children don't win. You, either as an individual, or as a "previous" couple, have to decide for yourself, how you're going to make it so that your children don't suffer. When you accept that the court system isn't there to actually help you get what your children deserve, and you start focusing on how you're going to make it work for yourself or between you, largely leaving the court out of the equation, you'd be surprised at just how much more quickly you move forward in the process.

Peace xo