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Irreconciliable differences?

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Decades after mediation became the model in divorce, and was pushed worldwide (starting in Calif., especially in the 1980s), it still has a sour taste…

Hey — Can we talk about consequences of this doctrine, yet???  This is the U.K., only last fall (Sept. 2008).  I was googling another incident, and:

Kate Hilpern, in “The Guardian” asks:

Ending it all

This week’s killing of two little girls by their father, who then killed himself, is the latest in a shocking tally of so-called ‘family wipe-outs’. What drives men, often described as devoted to their children, to carry out such crimes? And can we stop them? Kate Hilpern reports

  •  Wednesday 24 September 2008

Every six to eight weeks (and lately, more frequently) a man or a woman – usually a man – kills their partner or their children and then themselves. Most of these cases are never reported. David Wilson, professor of criminology at Birmingham City University, explains that, somewhere along the line, our perception of murder has become warped and “murder-suicides” don’t quite fit prevailing news values. “Most people have a view of murder – which is very much constructed by the media – as stranger-perpetrated and requiring police to try to catch those perpetrators. In fact, the clear-up [rate] for murder [is currently around] 88% and that’s because you don’t have to be a Cracker to work out who’s done it. When it comes to children, the most likely person to kill them is their parent, just as when it comes to adults, the most likely person is their partner.”

No, this wasn’t in my world view growing up, either. . .  Yours???  Theirs??

This article intelligently addresses several of the primary issues, such as what these were NOT (temporary insanity).  It WAS predictable, and probably avoidable.  It WAS about power and revenge.  Frequently, the woman was ignored.  Precursors besides clear threats, and a history of battering the woman, include often depression, and recent or long-term unemployment or unemployment.  And/or stalking.  Clear refusal to obey orders.  I personally KNOW these things (all of them), and it scares the bejeebers out of me.

What has frightened me, if possible, much, much more, is that with each return to a family court judge, there is no alarm, fright, concern, or apparent belief of the warning signs.  Instead, there is this kind of “stupor,” as in, where’s the blood?  When was the last time you were taken to the emergency room.  Was there an actual threat to kill?

No, not this time.  The point was made clear years ago, and has continued to be made clear through enforcement of minor requests as orders (or else), or taking my daughters when I attempted to set a line in the sand — or collect child support arrears.

To be taken with an ex-spouse in front of a court that refuses to believe (or review the file), and have a mutual knowing that this is not going to be taken seriously — and then to go and read the laws that say, it IS to be taken seriously — that is a very, very, frightening experience, my friends.  It interferes with daily life often enough.  How low can one lie?  Is it possible to lie below the radar of such intense stubborn refusal to comply (with court orders), such flagrant challenging of them rubber stamped publically — but not for women.

In other cases of murder suicide – which, despite the recent spate, have remained constant in terms of numbers for several decades – there is a very clear history of domestic violence. In other cases of murder suicide – which, despite the recent spate, have remained constant in terms of numbers for several decades – there is a very clear history of domestic violence. “

“Julia Pemberton’s ex-husband repeatedly warned her that he would kill her. It wasn’t that she didn’t take notice, as she told friends, family and police. Family court judges were aware of the terror. Her final 16-minute 999 call made headlines in 2004 when it was read out at the inquest into her and her 17-year-old son William’s murders, committed by her husband, who also killed himself.”


I note that the address URL for this article read “/children.mentalhealth”

Here’s a wonderful excerpt from the AFCC website talking about how the “old” terminology of criminal law was just so inappropriate, outmoded, as it were, for family law.  After all, it’s a “family,” right?

(This is from the AFCC link to the right, the history page):

“The 1980s: The Mediation Explosion”

“The Children’s Bureau of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare awarded AFCC a research grant to study the effects of mediation on custody and visitation disputes in courts in Connecticut, Los Angeles and Minneapolis. 

Interest in court-connected reconciliation counseling was diminishing, and joint custody, mediation, domestic violence and stepfamilies were becoming central issues.  The legislation boom had begun, and it was moving in a strong wave from California across the United States. Mandatory mediation and joint custody were hot topics.

AFCC’s Mediation Committee hosted three national symposia on mediation standards between 1982 and 1984.  Representatives of more than thirty organizations participated in developing the first set of Model Standards of Practice for Family and Divorce Mediation.  By the late 1980s, mediation of custody and visitation disputes was mandatory in jurisdictions in more than 33 states.”

I have experienced mediation 3 times.  It was a farce each time.  It also was a violation of due process, and immediately  upended the family dynamics  — and households.  I am utterly opposed to its use in DV, and the family courts are utterly adamant about it up here.  WHY, one wonders.  Streamlines the process, no messy “reviewing” of the court record, or the history of DV that perhaps led to the breakup to start with.

Perhaps there should be an automatic safety  rule, as Dads feel so disempowered, and need to act quickly to restore the balance — a cooling off period of at least 3 months, perhaps.  Perhaps.   I don’t know, but mediation will not work when the power balance includes physical violence and intimidation.  Depending on how one defines “works.”  A 32 year old man, here (above) was sure he’d win.  When he didn’t, he found another way to “win.”  We need another paradigm.

Written by Let's Get Honest|She Looks It Up

March 9, 2009 at 8:24 am

One Response

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  1. Judge Barry Baskin stated, “You have NO Constitutional Rights!”. He was the supervisor of all judges in Contra Costa County, California. I reported his illegal ex-parte communication that benefited the father, of which my daughter was taken from me. I was severely punished by the courts, and judge. This system does not function correctly, its self-preservation of those in “God’s” place.


    March 31, 2009 at 8:06 am

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