Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Divorce lawyer defends his business

A Virginia lawyer wrote this letter to the editor:
You ought to be ashamed of yourself for publishing Stephen Baskerville's drivel...

As an attorney who has practiced family law in the Fredericksburg region for more than 27 years, I would like to correct as many errors as possible of those contained in Baskerville's commentary.

Divorce does not license government intrusion, "including the power to seize children, loot family savings, and incarcerate parents without a trial."

Baskerville is wrong. In most divorce trials you don't receive one trial, but two.
No, Baskerville is right. The family court seized my kids twice without a trial. I did get some trials in attempts to get them back, but they were seized without any trial or evidence at all.

I am also paying child support based on figures for which there was never any testimony.
Baskerville is also 75 percent wrong when he states that judges, psychotherapists, social workers, and lawyers "profit from ensuing litigation."

Judges, psychotherapists, and social workers don't profit from ensuing divorce litigation. Judges are paid a salary to be a judge and hear trials that men and women bring to them. They are not paid on commission.

Most psychotherapists and social workers with whom I've worked over the years try to avoid litigation. They can't help clients if they, the psychotherapists and social workers, are sitting in court all day.
Again, Baskerville is correct. They do profit from the litigation. There are a couple of court psychotherapists who make $7-10k per week on court evaluations. They are getting rich from it.

They profit from trials even more. They charge triple their usual rate if they have to testify in court. They are not in business to help their clients. They work for the court.

They do try to avoid testifying, because it is stressful for them. They commonly do unethical things, and they hate being asked about them in court. To them, the ideal case is one which is litigated for months, and then settled just before court testimony is needed. That way they get the big bucks for writing their lousy reports, but do not have to defend what they say.
Baskerville's claim that "child abuse is itself the creation of welfare bureaucracies" is so absurd that I must comment. One need only sit through a week or two of family-court trials to see beaten, burned, damaged children--or to hear stories of murdered children.
I have been in the local family court for five years, and I have yet to see a genuine case of abuse. Every one was an uncorroborated accusation made in the context of a child custody fight. The lawyers here routinely advise their clients to make false accusations. I am not denying that abuse exists, but the real abuse cases are handled by some other court. The abuse that is heard in family court is almost entirely bogus.

Update: The newspaper published five letters criticizing this lawyer.

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