chronicling the high cost of our legal system

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  • Resources of interest

    Family law resources

    (divorce, custody, adoption, visitation, etc.)

    Overlawyered.com commentary [through mid-June 2003. Items after that date collected here]:

    Probate and estate miseries, 2003: "Probate's misplaced trust" (Washington Post series), Jun. 16-17. 2002: "Lawyers swallow lion's share in estate dispute" (Australia), Feb. 18-19. 2001: "New York guardianship scandals", Dec. 20 (& Jan. 12, 2000); "'Lawyers pay price for cruel hoaxes'" (phony heirs), Aug. 3-5 (& Nov. 29, 2000, Apr. 10, 2001); "Estate law temptations", Jul. 6-8; "Write a very clear will" (Jerry Garcia, James Mason, H.J. Lutcher Stark), May 14. 2000: "$1.5 million estate bill included 900 hours spent on fees", Sept. 8-10.  1999: "Weekend reading: evergreens" (St. Petersburg Times Pulitzer series), Dec. 3-5; "From the evergreen file: L.A. probate horror" (estate of art collector Fred Weisman), Nov. 20-21; "Weekend reading: evergreens" (Denver probate nightmare), Oct. 23-24; "State of legal ethics" (lawyers advertise to stir up will-contest litigation), Oct. 5-6. 

    "Decorating for reconciliation", May 29, 2003.

    "Pet custody as legal practice area", Feb. 17, 2003; "Officious intermeddlers, pet division" (lawyers intervene on behalf of couple's cats and dogs), May 14-15, 2002. 

    Custody and visitation, 2003: "'The Politics of Family Destruction'" (Stephen Baskerville), Jan. 7-8. 2002: "Rethinking grandparent visitation", Oct. 21; "'Avoiding court is best defence'", Jan. 14-15.  2001: "Columnist-fest" (John Tierney), May 25-27; "Solomon's child", Jan. 26-28.  1999: "Spreading to Australia?" (smoking and child custody), Dec. 29-30; "Chicago's $4 million kid" (custody battle royal), Sept. 17-19.

    Child support, 2003: "'The Politics of Family Destruction'" (bans on fathering more children), Jan. 7-8 (& Nov. 28, 2001). 2001: "Wrong guy?  Doesn't seem to matter", Aug. 7-8; "'Judge orders parents to support 50-year-old son'", Aug. 7-8.  2000: "State errors unfairly cast some dads as deadbeats", Sept. 8-10; "Not child's father, must pay anyway" (plus: "throwaway dads"), May 22; "Pilloried, broke, alone" (Donna LaFramboise on "deadbeat dads"), April 10.  1999: "Beating up on 'deadbeat dads'", Aug. 23. 

    "Lawyers fret about bad image", Oct. 3, 2002. 

    "Hizzoner's divorce, settled at last", Jul. 16-17, 2002. 

    "Lawyer's 44-hour workday" (social service agency, uncontested adoptions), Jun. 28-30, 2002. 

    "Anti-circumcision suit advances", Aug. 19, 2002; "By reader acclaim: suing over circumcision", Feb. 28-March 1, 2001; "Folk medicine meets child abuse reporting" ("coining" of skin), May 31-Jun. 2, 2002. 

    Restraining orders: "'The Politics of Family Destruction'", Jan. 7-8, 2003; "A menace in principle", March 4, 2002; "Fateful carpool", Aug. 23-24, 2000; "Stay away, I've got a court order", Aug. 11-13; "Recommended reading" (Dan Lynch in Albany Times-Union), Jan. 25, 2000; "Hitting below the belt", Oct. 26, 1999; "Injunctive injustice", Oct. 14; "Weekend reading" ("Why is Daddy in jail?...For the crime of wanting to see his child"), Sept. 25-26, 1999; "Hitting below the belt" (Cathy Young, Salon). 

    "Mom wants to be sued" (for negligent injury to fetus), Jan. 4-6, 2002. 

    "'Wrongful life' comes to France", Dec. 11, 2001; "Meet the 'wrongful-birth' bar", Aug. 22-23 (& letter to the editor, Sept. 3; more on wrongful birth/life: Jan. 9-10, May 20-21, Jul. 1-2, 2002; Nov. 22-23, Sept. 8-10, June 8, May 9, Jan. 8-9, 2000). 

    "Women's rights: British law, or Islamic?", Nov. 13, 2001. 

    "Rush to reconcile", Sept. 27, 2001. 

    "Why she's quitting law practice" (Canadian lawyer Karen Selick), Aug. 13-14, 2001. 

    "Canadian court: divorce settlements never final", May 15, 2001; "Down repressed-memory lane II: distracted when she signed" (separation agreement), Dec. 29-30, 1999. 

    "'Halt cohabiting or no bail, judge tells defendants'" (1805 N.C. law), May 8, 2001; "Dusting 'em off" (old laws against "alienation of affection", cohabitation), May 18-21, 2000. 

    "'State running background checks on new parents'" (Michigan), Apr. 3-4, 2001; "Expanding definitions of child abuse", Feb. 16-19, 2001; "Battered?  Hand over your kids", July 13, 2000. 

    "'Victim is sued for support'" (Canada: husband shot by wife may have to pay her), Feb. 9-11, 2001; "Pay us for this service" (husband dunned for cost of defending wife charged with murdering their kids), Dec. 22, 1999. 

    "Do as the Douglases do" (pre-nuptial agreements), Jan. 10, 2001. 

    "Behind the subway ads" (1-800-DIVORCE, etc.), Dec. 18-19, 2000; "State of legal ethics" (ad for will-contest litigation), Oct. 5-6; "Honey, you've got mail" (solicitations from divorce lawyers arrive before unsuspecting spouses know they're being divorced), July 15, 1999. 

    "Family law roundup" (English couple's divorce costs £840,000; frequent flier miles argued over; charges of clubby Marin County, Calif. courts), Nov. 7, 2000. 

    "Dangerous divorce opponents" (when spouse is lawyer), Sept. 21, 2000. 

    "The asset hider", May 16, 2000; "No, honey, nothing special happened today" (woman seeking divorce fails to tell husband she just won California lottery), Nov. 20-21, 1999. 

    "Columnist-fest: liberal aims, illiberal means" (Stuart Taylor on same-sex marriage, William Raspberry on grandparents' rights), Feb. 24, 2000. 

    "Scorched-earth divorce tactics?  Pay up" (Massachusetts decisions adopt loser-pays as sanction), Jan. 31, 2000. 

    "Dear Abby: Please help..." (sue married man for breach of promise to follow through on divorce?), Jan. 11, 2000. 

    "Christmas lawyer humor" (Richard Crouch, "Joys of the season for divorce lawyers"), Dec. 23-26, 1999. 

    "Splitsville, N.Y." (New York magazine cover story), Dec. 17-18, 1999. 

    "Weekend reading" (some celebrities tuck nondisclosure contracts into the envelope with wedding invitations), Aug. 7-8, 1999. 

    Articles by Overlawyered.com editor Walter Olson:

    "Free To Commit" (Louisiana covenant marriage law), Reason, October 1997. 

    "At Law: Divorce Court New York Style", City Journal, Spring 1993. 

    "Kidlib and Mrs. Clinton: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle" (children's rights), National Review, May 11, 1992. 

    "Suing Ourselves to Death", (vagueness of custody standards; excerpt, The Litigation Explosion), Washington Post, April 28, 1991. 

    Countless websites deal with divorce, custody and other family-law topics.  A great many of these are put up by persons outraged at what they've gone through in their own experiences in court.  Among sites with a reformist focus, many align themselves with one or another camp among family roles: thus there are sites that focus on husbands' legal woes and those that focus on wives'; sites for custodial and for non-custodial parents, for birth parents, for adoptive parents and for adoptees; and so forth.  Yet dissatisfaction with the legal system's handling of family breakup, and outrage at exorbitant costs, tactical gamesmanship, judges with too much arbitrary power, unreliable expert opinion, and outright perjury and invention, are themes that weave through sites from all sides.  Indeed, one lesson from comparing a variety of sites is that innocent parties of every sex, age and condition are victimized by legal hardball -- and that the process produces many more losers than winners. 

    Books of interest:

    Karen Winner, "Divorced from Justice : The Abuse of Women and Children by Divorce Lawyers and Judges
    Cathy Young, "Ceasefire! Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality". 
    Richard Ofshe and Ethan Watters, "Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy, and Sexual Hysteria
    Margaret Hagen, "Whores of the Court: The Fraud of Psychiatric Testimony and the Rape of American Justice" (currently unavailable)

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