Is Family Court a Fraud?

When people think of divorce, they naturally think of court. When they think of court, they think of a judge. They think of a wise judge, a patient judge, a judge who will listen to their story, a judge who will understand, a judge who will decide who is right and who is wrong. A judge who will know the right thing, the fair thing to do.

People also think that a lawyer will assure that they get their day in court, that a strong advocate will carry the day for them.
I am not sure how people acquire such beliefs. Just part of the culture, I guess, what we absorb from third grade onward about our system of “justice.” “Due process.” “Right to be heard.”

The Judicial Council, the people who run our court system, did a survey a few years ago, asking the public their opinions and hopes from various court procedures–criminal, civil, small claims and family. From family law what people wanted was a “fair procedure” and an opportunity to “tell their story.” Exactly what they do not get in family law.

I was astonished to discover in the official Judicial Council statistics that of petitions for dissolution of marriage (divorce), there were 140,180 cases filed in California. Most were concluded (139,846), but a mere 1,331 couples actually had a trial wherein a judge made decisions. The Council alleges that 138,515 cases were “disposed of before trial.”

In other words, a divorcing couple has a 0.009 per cent chance of having a judge listen to their case.

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