Dr. Leon Koziol, Director
Parenting Rights Institute
Unless the California Supreme Court thinks otherwise, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will have to start their five year divorce all over again after a middle level appeals court disqualified their trial judge in July, 2021. That judge had awarded the couple joint custody and 50/50 parenting time, a proper outcome if one abides by the laws of nature, common sense and gender equality. After all, there was no finding of unfit parenting on either side here.
But unfortunately, divorce and family courts throughout the country do not operate under that logical framework. They continue to deliberate under the antiquated foundation of custody awards, lawyer profits and court revenues supplied by federal entitlement laws known as Title IV-D of the Social Security Act. 42 USC 651 et. seq. It is a funding law which incentivizes court conflict while causing an inherent bias among decision makers who benefit financially over the number and size of support orders they issue.
The Pitt-Jolie trial judge was actually selected by agreement as a way of avoiding publicity and harm to the couple’s five children over which a custody battle had been underway. But like so many cases, that objective was lost as the legal teams on both sides found ways to inject strategies to increase their fees many times over. By the time this fiasco is concluded, most of the impacted children will be in college or capable of emancipation from these parent contestants.
How is any of this now in the so-called “best interests of the child,” that tired old justification used by these courts to seize jurisdiction over such matters? It is a seizure based on a judge-made doctrine dating back to feudal England, known as parens patriae, and carried over to the courts here despite its conflict with our Constitution. It is also the source of legal authority used to establish a child custody framework tailored to a period when moms stayed home as caregivers while dads went off to work for support purposes.
A shared parenting model remains elusive even well into the 21st century because it is a serious threat to a service provider’s gold mine. Under an ideal model, parents would not be required to name a “custodial parent” as a condition for legal separation or a valid divorce decree. Instead, the focus would be on two reasonably fit parents (in this day and age) who are treated as co-equal figures.
Under a shared model, the arbitrary remand of one parent to the inferior and stigmatizing role of “noncustodial parent” would not be in play unless serious abuse or neglect was found by an independent state agency. In most divorce cases, such agencies are not even involved. Nevertheless, unscrupulous lawyers are allowed to concoct all sorts of reasons to select one parent over the other in a “winner-take-all” contest reminiscent of the Roman Coliseum.
Indeed, here is what a veteran judge stated to justify his revolutionary departure from this antiquated custody framework in the case of Webster v Ryan, 729 NYS2d 315 (Albany Fam. Ct. 2001) at fn. 1:
At the outset, the Court notes that the terms ‘custody’ and ‘visitation’ have outlived their usefulness. Indeed their use tends to place any discussion and allocation of family rights into an oppositional framework. ‘Fighting for custody’ directs the process towards determining winners and losers. The children, always in the middle, usually turn out to be the losers…
This Court has abandoned the use of the word ‘visitation’ in its Orders, using the phrase ‘parenting time’ instead. If the word ‘custody’ did not so permeate our statutes and was not so ingrained into our psyches, that word would be the next to go… This misplaced focus draws parents into contention and conflict, drawing the worst from them at a time when their children need their parents’ best.
It is long past the time for a universal shared parenting law so that our government can truly state that it is promoting the “best interests” of our children and not its lawyers. This goal is well supported by other famous actors who tried in vain to influence such reforms. The late Robin Williams made a graphic case against parental alienation in the blockbuster movie, Mrs. Doubtfire. Released nearly thirty years ago, if anything, the alienation is much worse today.
In 2008, during his divorce with Kim Basinger, Alec Baldwin published his book, A Promise to Ourselves, as part of his effort to modernize the California court system. But as quickly as he entered the fray, he abandoned the movement altogether no doubt because it was impairing his acting career or even his very existence given the suicide considerations revealed in that book. Kiefer Sutherland and Jason Patric were similarly motivated to change this system but they too exited the movement upon achieving their personal goals.
As a consequence we see an unprecedented impact upon our society. The time and resources needlessly expended in these courts have harmed our families, children, productivity, health, law enforcement and moral fiber as a nation. In my own divorce, originally uncontested, a 15-year protracted court battle has caused irreparable harm to all concerned. The retributions I endured for a conscientious stand against this system remain off the charts.
This silent epidemic is far too complicated for a website posting. Instead it is detailed in my recently published book, Whistleblower in Paris, available on all the major bookseller sites. It is a literary work years in the making based on a true story that features a civil rights attorney and model parent targeted for suppression and extinction by powerful beneficiaries. It is a story that would make John Grisham ecstatic.
Get a free insight regarding this epidemic on the book’s website at http://www.whistleblowerinparis.com. And help us overcome the censorship of this message by sharing and promoting it everywhere.