As I write the word “expert” I am reminded of a true story regarding a young frum mother who was mired in a relentless custody fight. The judge appointed an expert to do home visits – when the kids were with their mother and when they were at home with their father. She would watch and evaluate their interactions and give her opinion as to whom she thought the children would be better off with.
She seemed startled and a bit put off when the mother asked her what her credentials were. Several questions later, the mother realized that the expert who was to report to the judge regarding the placement of her Yiddishe children, was a never-married, childless, siblingless chain–smoking woman in her late 30’s – the only child of gentile German parents who came to America after World War II. (At least they had that in common.)
Before leaving, the expert shared that she had had a Jewish boyfriend and even though they had broken up, she would grab a Jewish man in a minute – everyone knew they made great husbands and fathers.
It was no surprise to her – though nonetheless terrifying – when Miss Court Appointed Expert wrote in her report that the father should have primary custody.
After her frantic call, her lawyer assured her that the family court judges never followed this woman’s recommendations.
None of them took her too seriously. The mother felt “so much better” as she wrote out a check mandated by the court to pay its experts for their time. As for the lawyers – both hers and her ex-husband’s – managed to stretch out a court case that should have been easily resolved in weeks to one that lasted several years and cost thousands of dollars.
The financial toll alone should put the brakes on for couples who are unwilling or unable to have a “civil” non—civil divorce and resolve their issues on their own. It’s free if you make your own decisions and have your consent document signed and legalized.
I do realize that in most cases if the spouses were able to cooperate and compromise in order to come out with an acceptable division of what is mutually theirs, then they wouldn’t be divorcing in the first place.
Two reasonable people who can resolve their disputes in a mutually satisfactory manner likely have a happy marriage.
Couples who couldn’t agree on anything or have a “give and take” relationship while they were married – obviously aren’t going to take on those abilities while divorcing. Often, there is no recourse but to go to court.
Yet, ironically, a “good” divorce is as crucial for a family’s future well-being as is a good marriage – maybe more so. And a good divorce means both spouses giving up, giving in and keeping third parties out of it as much as possible.Cheryl Kupfer
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