By Family Court Refugee
Thank you, Feminist Fallacy, for giving a chance to air my grievances against feminism and how feminism has affected the courts.
When I was going through a divorce, it should have been a slam dunk that I’d get complete custody of the kids. My husband was addicted to drugs and had been convicted of child abuse by the state. What I found out instead is that the courts tend to think that even child abusers should get “joint custody.” They also think that giving custody to misbehaving fathers will suddenly make them better people if given more responsibility. (In civil court, he was able to plea bargain the charges down to “simple battery,” even though the Department of Children and Family Services said that the abuse was “founded.”)
Believe me, my ex-husband loved the kids. He had moments of being a great father. That I don’t deny.
However, he was unwilling to admit drug abuse and that it caused his eruptions of irrational anger and domestic violence. Because of the denial, he was unwilling to get help. (In contrast, I had never used drugs.) I didn’t know that that my husband was already addicted when we got married. By marrying me, he looked at me as someone who may keep him from practicing his addiction. However, love trumps addiction only for a short period of time. There came a time he couldn’t hide, and his behaviors got worse and worse.
When the final judgement came, the court determined that he had reformed his child abusing ways, because he expressed remorse. Although the kids lived with me, he continued to do harassing and abusive things like coming to the home. I got the locks changed again, but he was able to get one of the kids to give him the new key. Another time he broke the door down, and moved back into the house. I was able to get another order of protection, but it did little to put a damper on his parental privileges.
It’s not that the judges thought that I was lying and making up things. The child abuse reports were recorded by the police and by the Department of Children and Family Services. When our case got transferred to a female judge, my treatment was worse, as is often the case. At least the male judge said that he had to meet and pick up kids at a neutral place, away from the home.
How my situation resolved
How did my situation resolve? At the time, we were seeing a mediator, the third time that a mediator was required after the divorce. The mediator, who was also a lawyer, said “Just because it (the child abuse) happened two years ago doesn’t mean it will happen again.” Shortly afterwards, another instance of child abuse occurred and I decided that moving out of state was the only option. According to the divorce decree, I was not allowed to move out of state. By that time, I knew he wouldn’t take me to court, because the evidence against him was so bad and it would be embarrassing for him. I moved 1200 miles away, across 5 states, to protect my kids, because, thanks to feminists’ influence, the court would not protect them.
It’s unfair they had to change schools and leave their friends, all because the courts felt that a father who had drug abuse and child abuse issues needed “equal parenting time.” I later found out that he was mailing opioids and cigarettes to my teens, a subtle way to curry favor and get back at me.
When I moved, I was pretty angry at my lawyer, considered one of the best divorce lawyers in our large metropolitan area. When I asked why abuse wasn’t an automatic red flag in family courts, the answer I got was that feminists had rigged the system so that wrongdoing in marriage could not penalize you in divorce. The provision was intended for women who had affairs during marriage, so that they could not be judged or put at a disadvantage.
The first instance of child abuse happened when we were married, and thus it led to the divorce. I can tell you point blank that, by not considering this bad behavior in marriage as grounds to penalize him, the courts punished my children.
It was not because I didn’t have money. I paid top dollars for this kind of justice. If I had so much trouble, I can only imagine that it’s so much worse for women without resources who divorce abusive men. The feminists may be good for women who are financial CEOs and lawyers, who prize their careers over their kids, but they not good for the average woman.
The war between the sexes
It’s not just the feminists who have made the family courts unbearable. I have heard of women who viciously try to keep good men away from their kids. There’s a group of lawyers who advertise and specialize in fathers’ rights. They’re an obnoxious bunch, but they might be a reaction to feminist overkill. Both the feminists and fathers’ rights groups have exacerbated the war between the sexes. The losers are the children.
However, I don’t think that “Parent Alienation Syndrome,” which gets a lot of bandwidth today, has any merit. Psychiatrists often support the fathers who claim this. If your children don’t like you, don’t want to be with you, you’re going to have to wait until they’re adults and will be better at judging in your situation. It may be a shame but it should clear up some bad behavior.
As for the women who vow to revenge their ex-husbands because of an affair, they need to know that domestic violence and child abuse are worse. The judges who discount the latter are a problem.
Twenty years ago a feminist told me that it was necessary to use the divorce courts to get rid of patriarchy by forcing women to work and forcing equal parenting on fathers. This feminist said it doesn’t matter if some get harmed because some need to be sacrificed for the desired outcomes. “The end justifies the means.” Her opinion was that women who didn’t work for 20 years should lose alimony, and moms without job skills must be forced into the workplace. In the new scenario, a women who is poor and uneducated can lose physical custody of the kids just because she doesn’t have money. Unfortunately, the feminists’ selfish “change the patriarchy” narrative has punished thousands and thousands of women and children.
The widespread crisis in family courts
There’s a crisis in family courts with over 700 youth killed by a parent or parental-figure during circumstances involving divorce, separation, custody, visitation or child support, since 2008. The Center for Judicial Excellence keeps these records. Men are more likely to resort to violent beatings and shootings than the mothers, a reason that judges should believe women when there’s a threat of violence. If a father has abused the mother, or abused the child previously, he should not get joint custody and he should only have supervised visitation. A child’s risk of abuse increases after parents separate, when feelings of anger and loss of control are most intense.
More than 58,000 children are ordered by family courts into unsupervised contact with physically or sexually abusive parents following divorce in the United States, according to the Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence. This failure is a clear reason why the courts should stop demanding joint custody. Yes, women can be a problem too, and new partners of both men and women can be the culprits.
I agree that feminists deserve credit for bringing the issue of domestic violence to the fore, but their desire for men to have equal parenting time so that more women get in the workplace is a flaw of the feminist movement and a real blind spot in the justice system. In retrospect, my real problem in the family courts was the triumph of feminist expectations that dads, even abusive ones, must be as good as the moms, in order to satisfy demands for “equality.” For the changes they’ve brought to family court, I will always resent the feminists.
If the mother warns that the father has a drug problem, and the drug use is the reason for the divorce, the judges need to stop telling mothers to give “quality time” to the father. They need to absolutely hold off on any visitation. Brandon Abbot’s wife was told that her 3-year-old twins must spend nights with the father. Unfortunately, Liam and Landon Abbot died in a fire. Drug tests showed the father had used marijuana, oxycodone and Ecstasy, and the fire may have been caused by the propane torch among his drug paraphernalia. Forcing parenting responsibility doesn’t make an addict suddenly shape up.
The desire to make all men good mothers, an equality the feminists want, has tipped the courts away from considering child safety first.
Family Court Refugee wishes to remain anonymous.