If you have been a defendant in any of our family courts since the "welfare reform" of the 1990's, you most likely left there with an eerie feeling that the decision was made long before you walked into the courtroom. That should be of no surprise to anyone because the fact is; the decision was made long before your case was even filed.
How and why does this keep happening with such great predictability? That is because our family law operation is that way by design.
Our states' family law statutes are not designed to dispense justice or operate in "the best interest of the child." Nor are they the true governance over the daily operations of our courts. Rather, the states family law statutes are designed to ensure the operations of their family courts leverage the maximum return from a vast array of federal grant sources. Most of the programs providing the grant money to family law were major parts of our failed welfare reform effort of the 1990's.
The legislatures of most of our states have abnegated their authority over the operational guidelines of their courts to committees under their Supreme Courts. These committees produce and manage the states' courts guidelines, rules and procedures that govern the day-to-day operation of the state's family courts and that of the court personnel and, in effect, attorneys practicing within them.
These guidelines, rules, and procedures your own attorney will claim they must work within have nothing to do with actual laws. Remember the separation of powers? That's right. It is against the law for our courts to legislate. So the guidelines, rules and procedures that govern our courts operation aren't laws. But don't fool yourself; they do have the full effect and force of law.
To be certain nothing can stop this feeding frenzy off the federal teat, the states have excluded the operation of the courts from their respective Sunshine laws. So you can't find out in advance what they are planning to do in the next revision. Therefore, you have no say in the matter except after the fact. This for all practical matters is no say at all.
This then raises the question: What was your attorney doing when he or she said you have a "winnable" case and why isn't he or she filing civil rights violations claims when you get slaughtered? Upon interviewing several dozen family law attorneys throughout the country, my group True Equality Network came to the astounding conclusion that they do not actually practice law at all. Family law attorneys are merely "processors" within a system of very constrictive procedural guidelines.
So your defeat will be due to the practice of law without governing laws.
Then what are these elusive guidelines, rules, and procedures constructed to do? That's simple. They are designed to make certain that rulings are made that generate the highest return from an assortment of federal "incentive programs."
It is important to note that the states actually have no legal requirement to do what is required of most, if not all, of the federal incentive programs. Those requirements are only applicable if the state wants to apply for the federal moneys a given program provides.
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Terri Lynn Tersak is a Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of True Equality Network. She is presently on an extended maternity and family leave from her work as a commercial photographer and her positions as President of True Equality Network, (more...
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