By Martha Chan
Our publisher was given an early screening of the movie Divorce Corp that premiered a couple of weeks ago which presented a fairly bad picture of the family law system. The movie introduces you to high priced divorce professionals who seem incompetent, uncaring and corrupt, including custody valuators, family lawyers, and judges.
The documentary showed several horror divorce stories with great injustice done to one spouse. As an example, one of the victims was a mother who was granted no visitation with her child at all and was told by a judge that she was not allowed to appeal her divorce decision. She appealed, and was put in jail 3 times for appealing. She failed to see why she was not allowed to see her child since she was not a criminal and did not abuse her child. As with the other cases depicted in the film, the other spouse or the lawyers and judges involved were not interviewedlawy.
Then there are claims that elected judges play favoritism towards lawyers who contribute to their election campaign and that some will order the couples to sell their property in order to pay their lawyers.
To an average person, the movie does paint a bad picture. I can see the movie getting support from those who have gone through a divorce and did not get what they want. To some, it is obvious that these are extreme cases, but still they beg the question of why are they are allowed to happen? I manage our facebook page for Divorce Magazine, there is no shortage of complaints about the system and the lawyers on that page. I know perfectly well that divorce is hardly a time or situation where people would be experiencing joy. I think lawyers and dentists are probably two categories of professionals that we all want to avoid.
I have met and heard family lawyers who are for reforming the current legal system. I am not sure that there is an organized movement to do so. But if there is, that needs to be communicated and hopefully input from all parties are solicited. Otherwise the movie is here to challenge the existing system using perhaps some extreme cases that seemingly have gone very wrong. The film presented a very simplified version of what could work based on what happened in Scandinavia. Obviously, looking at other countries should be a part of the reform process. And, would we consider the introduction of mediation and collaborative divorce as an organized movement to reforming the system?
Let me throw this question out there: Is there an organized effort to reform the legal system in a major way? If yes, please let us know. Family Lawyer Magzine would love to publish an article on that. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you in advance.
How utterly patronizing, to “pretend” to not know there are SEVERAL movements to DEMAND reform for the divorce industry that in particular is taking advantage of wealthy baby boomers, AND young and naive parents with little assets but their daily jobs, of which the LEGAL industry revolving around divorce CLEARLY profits greatly from while in reality destroying at least one of the litigants TOTALLY financially.
Whenver there is a planned LOSER and one so called WINNER who gets the majority of spoils in a divorce, something is not right. Many people have lost their entire savings and children to this winner/loser concept.
People divorce for many reasons but one is glaringly obvious….one party thinks the marriage contract and the laws surround it, don’t apply to him/her leaving the other party to cut while there is still the chance of protecting what assets are left.
Yes there are innocents, and unfortunately they seem to be the ones suffering the most, and the ones saddled with the debts and obligations when the other not so responsible “bails” or becomes self indulgent.
These “innocents” are the most preyed upon, usually women with minor children….and the least likely to defend self legally or to hope to recover financially from the “games” . And yes you KNOW contributing to a judges campaign is “good business”, and I checked and ALL lawyers do this bribing of the judges favor , why not, this isn’t THEIR money they are contributing but the gains of “ripping of clients with paid for judges” outcome. DUH And then of course you offer to fix these mistakes, by charging more to the client for the mistakes you know you are making on purpose.
Bad enough the cost of lawyers, but when they also fail to protect financial interests or truly FREEZE assets, till equal and fair division occurs, and make costly (to the client anyway) mistakes and then charge the client to fix them, you have a total rip off system.
Mediation is a joke, it avoids the check and balances of a judicial system for true justice, or what little hope there is of that nowdays in no fault heaven for losers and their lawyers.
Mediation is a total failure and leaves many clients at prey, as discovery and the law is thrown out the window, with the “make nice” among people at financial war. Mediation is a war, of who is the best liar, and how vunerable left in the dark spouses are further harmed by the selfish and greedy, no holds barred spouse and attorneys, who clearly find the “uninformed” easy marks for easy money.
How dare you.
When I see blanket statements like these ones you have made:
“I checked and ALL lawyers do this bribing of the judges favor…”,
“Mediation is a total failure…”
I can’t help but ask how did you check, what is your background and experience that got you to make these statements?
I have seen many divorces, they don’t always end well nor do they always end up “destroying at least one of the litigants TOTALLY financially”. Certainly not all divorces have “one party thinks the marriage contract and the laws surround it, don’t apply to him/her…”
I am not a lawyer, but am interested in getting input on reform movements, that’s why I asked for input. It would be more helpful for your own cause to introduce the several movements for reform that you know of than to accuse me of pretending not to know about them. Reform is what you want, right?
Mark B. Baer, Esq.
I don’t believe that Martha was pretending anything or otherwise patronizing. Martha said, “I have met and heard family lawyers who are for reforming the current legal system. I am not sure that there is an organized movement to do so.” I am one such attorney that Martha was referencing. In fact, 12 of my articles on Divorce Corp. were published by Blogs on Divorce and can be found at the following link: http://blogsondivorce.com/?s=divorce+corp. Martha’s comment pertained to an organized movement by family law professionals and I am also unaware of such a movement. However, I am very well aware of such efforts by those outside the system and I have no doubt that Martha has knowledge of them as well. Sadly, I long ago came to the conclusion that I could not change the system from within and therefore I have dedicated a great deal of time, effort and money to educating the general public in order to assist them with their efforts. Similar issues were raised in an article by Rackham Karlsson titled “Divorce Corp. Review, Part 1: The Unreliable Narrator.” (http://www.zephyrlaw.com/family-law-blog/bid/371364/Divorce-Corp-Review-Part-1-The-Unreliable-Narrator)
As I described in my series of articles, Joseph Sorge had an opportunity with “Divorce Corp.” to produce a documentary that could lead to much needed reform of the family law system in the United States. I had a very unique opportunity to speak with Mr. Sorge on several occasions and engage in an email exchange with him regarding “Divorce Corp.” I included Mr. Sorge’s own words in my expose’ and he admitted that the “documentary was “false and misleading” and other such things. You would have to read my very extensive expose’ to see what Mr. Sorge said. If I misquoted Mr. Sorge, I have no doubt that with his immense wealth, he would have sued me and forced that I remove my expose’. Instead, he had his assistant, Simone, contact me to schedule a recorded interview because he found my review to be “very balanced.” Unfortunately, he wanted me to sign a Release Agreement, which would have allowed him to take my comments out of context and otherwise misquote me, as he did with many others in “Divorce Corp.” Based upon my knowledge of Mr. Sorge’s history, I insisted that he not be able to use any of the content without my prior approval and that he would be liable for $1,000,000.00 in damages if he violated that provision. They responded as follows: “We can’t proceed with the interview with your revisions to the release. If you change your mind, please us know.” Let’s be very clear – They couldn’t proceed because they knew in advance that they intended to misquote me and take my comments out of context. Otherwise, they would have had no issue with the changes that I made to the Release Agreement.
In his article titled “’Divorce Corp’ Documentary Takes Unfair Aim at Family Court Judges and Lawyers,” David A. Hoffman described how Joseph Sorge did just that to him. The link to that article is as follows: http://bostonlawcollaborative.com/blc/644-BLC/version/default/part/AttachmentData/data/Divorce%20Corp%20column%20%282014-01-07%29.pdf. Similar issues were raised in an article by Rackham Karlsson titled “Divorce Corp. Review, Part 1: The Unreliable Narrator.” (http://www.zephyrlaw.com/family-law-blog/bid/371364/Divorce-Corp-Review-Part-1-The-Unreliable-Narrator).
If you bother reading those articles, you will notice that Mr. Karlsson refers to me as “an outspoken ADR advocate who wisely declined to participate in the film.” Karen Robbins also wrote a series of articles about “Divorce Corp.” (http://familylaw-lifeinthetrenches.blogspot.com/2014/01/divorce-corp-part-one.html). In Part One of her series, she said, “The interviews were edited to further Mr. Sorge’s obvious political agenda and any reference to mediation or collaborative law, both positive movements in the Trenches, were removed. The work of people to reform the system, like Mark Baer, was not included. The editing changed, in many cases completely, what the interviewee stated, all to further Mr. Sorge’s purpose. It is his story, and he makes sure you only hear his side.” In case you haven’t noticed, my name keeps popping up as an attorney who is an outspoken advocate for reform.
There is no “divorce industry” and whatever is supposed to comprise the “divorce industry” does not take advantage of anyone. The system itself is inherently flawed, as I have written about extensively. There are SOME, possibly even MANY family law professionals who take advantage of people. However, to make a blanket statement is false and misleading. Furthermore, it places the blame only on the system and the professionals and NONE one the parties themselves. Remind me again who hires who. Last I knew, attorneys are hired by the parties themselves, if they even hire attorneys. Sadly, people going through family law matters tend to deliberately seek out destructive family law attorneys. I have explained this problem in many of my articles, including one titled “3 Things To Think About Before Filing For Divorce” that was published on Maria Shriver’s website. (http://mariashriver.com/blog/2014/02/3-things-filing-for-divorce-mark-baer/) The only family law attorneys making bank are the destructive ones because that is what the public wants. This is consistent with the economic theory of supply and demand – the supply follows the demand.
By the way, the REASONS people divorce are not because “one party thinks the marriage contract and the laws surround it, don’t apply to him/her.” I described the typical reasons for divorce in my article titled “Are You Certain That Your Divorce Is All Your Spouse’s Fault? (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-baer/the-blame-game-and-happy-_b_3323508.html). What you are describing is not the REASON for the divorce, but unfortunately occurs when the matter is placed into a “Win/Lose” process.
Interestingly enough, I have NEVER contributed any money to a judge’s campaign. However, as with everything you have written, I am included in your statement that “ALL lawyers do this bribing of the judges favor.” Furthermore, I have testimonials from former clients regarding my performance on litigated matters. If what you say is true, then I wouldn’t have obtained such results.
Your lack of knowledge is evidenced by pretty much every statement that you have made. I have written an article titled, “The Grave Mistake of Confusing Concepts of Justice and Fairness With the Law.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-baer/the-grave-mistake-of-conf_b_3740933.html) Sadly, your confusion on that issue is evident, since you said, “the check and balances of a judicial system for true justice.”
You have the audacity to state that “mediation is a joke.” Obviously, you are unaware that discovery (even formal discovery) can occur even when matters are mediated. Furthermore, the law is not “thrown out the window” in mediation. If a mediator is not making any decision, the “best liar” doesn’t come into play. However, it very clearly does in litigation. In fact, I have written extensively on that subject from a very personal standpoint. You will see just how wrong you are if you bother reading my article titled “What Is Required to Make Collaborative Divorce Truly Collaborative?” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-baer/what-is-required-to-make-_b_5428566.html). Mediation is not war, but litigation most certainly is. However, to quote myself, “All peacemaking involves mediation, but not all mediation involves peacemaking.”
I acknowledge that we all have our personal views and agendas. No matter what I think though, the facts are there, and mediation has helped so many people move forward with their lives.
Mediation in order to work needs people with open mind and being able to listen. If someone is stuck in their own agenda and not be able to see possibilities and understand what is best for all parties involved, especially the children, then nothing will work.
I’m not a lawyer either and these are simply my personal views. If I ever have to get a divorce though, mediation will be my choice. You know why? I’m not eager to waste my money and time for something that is in the past. If people do not want to try mediation and they think it is failure, that’s fine. They are wasting their own time and money…not mine!
Thanks Mark and Manos for your comments.
Manos, I like that you know you are stating your own preference and opinions and not try to present them as “facts”.
Mark, it is clear from your thoughtful comments backed with multiple sources and experience with divorce cases that while reform is needed, the movie has actually discredited this cause by being a sensational docudrama. When facts and people are quoted out of context repeatedly, the movie can no longer be qualified as a documentary that presents the truth.