Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Getting fleeced by the Dissomaster

I had to sit thru a hearing in which my wife's attorney went on a fishing expedition on how much money I was supposedly making. At one point, I had to spend about 15 minutes defending doing a favor for my mom without demanding a monetary payment! I had to answer silly questions like, "Have you ever received gifts from your mother?"

After a couple of hours of such silliness, the judge and lawyer thought they had enough data for their Dissomaster program. Dissomaster is a lame program that is used to calculate child and spousal support. To the innumerate lawyers who use it, it is just a black box.

At the end, my wife lawyer had the nerve to ask the court to order me to pay her fees. She said that she had already burned thru her $7,500 retainer! All she has done is to show up for two court appearances. At the first, the judge lectured her for botching up the paperwork. At the second, she came in completely unprepared. I guess that I should just pay up, and be happy that my wife hired an incompetent lawyer.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Funny tips for women

Here are some good tips for women:
1. Learn to work the toilet seat. If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us bitching about you leaving it down.

2. ALL men see in only 16 colors. Peach is a fruit, not a color.

3. If you won't dress like the Victoria's Secret girls, don't expect us to act like soap opera guys.

7. Birthdays, valentines, and anniversaries are not quests to see if we can find the perfect present yet again!

17. Ask for what you want. Let's be clear on this one. Subtle hints don't work. Strong hints don't work. Really obvious hints don't work. Just say it!

21. Yes and no are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

22. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do.

23. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

24. A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.

29. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument.

37. If we ask what's wrong and you say "nothing", we will act like nothing's wrong.

38. We know you're lying, but it's just not worth the hassle.
This should be required reading for any woman getting married.

Well meaning?

People keep telling me that the family court workers are well-meaning professionals, and are not evil. They are just trying to deal with difficult situations as simply and as best as they can.

I think that most of them are well-meaning. The same is true of cops and prosecutors. But accused criminals still have rights to due process, confrontation of witnesses against them, and a jury of peers. Parents routinely lose their kids without any of those rights.

I don't even think that the system's errors are just those of short-circuiting justice for simplicity. The simple approach would be to just ignore domestic violence claims, or to refer them to the criminal justice system. The simple approach would be to just ignore petty marital disputes since we have no-fault divorce. The simple approach to contested custody would be to say that parents automatically get 50-50 custody, unless there is the sort of contrary evidence that would stand up in criminal court. The simple approach would be to ignore hearsay, rather than try to assess its reliability. The simple approach would be to record interviews, so that there would be no dispute about what was said.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Being anonymous

I am usually not shy about posting online comments under my real name. I have a web page with my picture and address, and I am listed in the phone book. There is a lot of online info about me. But I don't want my kids to suffer because I have comtempt for the family court system.

The system hasn't really mistreated me yet, but I've been lucky so far. The system is rotten to the core. Meanwhile, I am posting anonymously.

Family Court Mediators

I just got out of court-ordered family-court mediation. I got my first shock at the start, when the mediator said that she was going to speak to my wife separately. I had been told that we would be interviewed together, with no lawyers present.

It turns out that my wife checked a box on a form saying that she has domestic violence allegations, and that entitled her to complain about me to the mediator for 45 minutes in my absence! Furthermore, it allowed her to bring in an advocate in her behalf!

I checked, and the California law does indeed have such a provision, provided that there is a restraining order or an under-oath written allegation of domestic violence. I have no restraining order. I asked my wife's lawyer where that written allegation was, and she wouldn't tell me. Apparently, I don't even have the right to see the accusations against me.

Later, the mediator demanded to interview our 7-year-old daughter. She grilled the poor kid for nearly an hour, with no parent or witness present, and no record of what was said. How is it that my wife is allowed to have an advocate, but a kid does not?

I think that it turned out okay, but I think that the procedure is really wrong. A 7-year-old telling a story will often leave out crucial details, because she is used to talking to people who have a fairly complete context for everything she says and does, and because she has the limited explanatory abilities and experience of a 7-year-old. If asked if her parents fight a lot, how is she to base her answer?

The interview is also extremely stressful on the kid. It is like a police interrogation, and she knows it. Everything she says can be used against her, and her parents. Her fate will depend on the subjective judgment of some dopey mediator.

We ended up spending 5 hours with the mediator, and her only recommendation was for more investigation. More investigation costs $1600. I think that she just wanted more money for her department.