The Lawyers are the Only Winners in Family Court

Father of two has run out of money, even though he represented himself. He was forced to spend a $30,000 retirement fund to pay for a Guardian Ad Litem to represent the children.

Elaine Mickman, of Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, said legal costs in her divorce and child custody case have totaled about $1 million, including $125,000 for experts including a guardian ad litem and four psychologists. The mother of three adults and two minors said she’s worried about losing her home because she’s running out of money.

It seems the lawyers evaluate their clients prospects based on their bank balances rather than the merits of the case or on ensuring the best outcome for all involved.

A Connecticut task force has been appointed to review the high legal costs in child custody cases while other states are experimenting with mediation services.

Full article here.


Crisis in Ontario, Canada Family Courts

Overcharging lawyers are crippling the family law system in Ontario. When litigants going through divorce have run out of money they resort to representing themselves.

The vast majority of people, the reason is really simple: They either couldn’t afford to hire someone at all, or they hired somebody and spent $10,000, $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 or sometimes $100,000 and they didn’t have any more and they were in debt for the money they were paying, so they became self-represented.”

Innocent Father Falsely Accused of Assaulting His Child

Father eventually vindicated after social services accuse him of assaulting his 3 month old child. He insisted that the injuries (retinal bleeding, scratch to the eye and a chin abrasion) were sustained when he fell holding the child. Lancashire social services instigated care proceedings after a referral was made to them after the child’s injuries were examined. The child was referred to local authority experts. In court, two of the experts concluded that the baby had been shaken and the third raised the possibility that such injuries may be possible when a child is dropped from a low level, with many parents not seeking medical attention.

Mr Justice Mostyn in the High Court Ruled that the father was innocent although as judges do, he didn’t rule out the possibility all together. He also criticised the time it had taken to bring the matter to court.

Lancashire Council v R [2013] EWHC 3064


Statistics on Children born 2012

From the Office for National Statistics

Key Findings

  • In 2012, nearly half (49%) of all live births were to mothers aged 30 and over.
  • In 2012, nearly two-thirds (65%) of fathers were aged 30 and over (excluding births registered solely by the mother).
  • In 2012, the standardised average age of mothers for all births was 29.8 years.
  • In 2012, for first births the standardised average age of mothers was 28.1 years.
  • In 2012, 84% of babies were registered by parents who were married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting.

Full stats here

Opening Up the Irish Secret Family Courts

The blanket ban of reporting Family Law Court proceedings is being lifted for the first time in Ireland. However, there are many provisos and with strict ban on any publications that details the identification of any individuals.

There are a lot of questions as to how it will work in practice and what the effect will be on individuals making or retracting false allegations and conversely being afraid to publicly make allegations that are justified.

Judges will consider several factors including the best interests of a child; the extent to which the presence of the media might inhibit or cause undue distress to a party or a child; and the need to protect a party against coercion, intimidation or harassment.

And other factors a judge will consider include; financial, commercial, medical and sexual orientation matters of privacy.