Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Monday, August 18, 2014

M.C. Moewe, Daily Kos: More money passes through family law courts than all the other courts combined. Corrupt judges have unchecked power over your personal finances and your childrens' lives. The lawyers are likely contributing to the judge's re-election campaign. These are the disturbing claims that two groups working to change America's family court system agree upon. But they haven't joined forces because the groups -- domestic violence victim advocates and men?s rights activists -- are often at odds with each other. "The rub is whether a parent accused of abuse is really a good parent being falsely accused," said Joseph Sorge, who wrote and directed a new documentary, Divorce Corp, that takes on the $50 billion a year divorce industry and advocates for shared parenting to be the default position of the courts. "The film shows how the system is about making money off the people who come to the courts. The children are in the middle of the money-making machine. The problem is that the machine does not care about the outcome for the children, just that it can fuel and feed off of conflict."

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Admin's note: Participants in this discussion must follow the site's moderation policy. Profanity will be filtered. Abusive conduct is not allowed.

Didn't this film come out last spring?

#1 | Posted by Tor at 2014-08-18 01:05 PM | Reply | Flag:

I have always believed that the election of judges is a very bad idea.

#2 | Posted by danni at 2014-08-18 01:08 PM | Reply | Flag:

Didn't this film come out last spring?

I think it was in theaters in 15 states in January, and distributed in other forms such as DVD after that.

#3 | Posted by rcade at 2014-08-18 01:10 PM | Reply | Flag:

This is why I acted as my own attny in my divorce.

Here's how it went...

"All rise for the Honorable Judge Whozits." Judge sits, shuffles papers, looks up over his half-glasses to the wife and says, "Hi, Tina. How are your parents?".

Case closed.

#4 | Posted by Corky at 2014-08-18 01:34 PM | Reply | Flag: | Funny: 2

#5...or was it shirtless Vlad?

#6 | Posted by DeadSpin at 2014-08-18 01:56 PM | Reply | Flag: | Funny: 2

So now you should understand why the so many lawyers are pro gay marriage as they are looking at more potential divorces to line their pockets.

#7 | Posted by MSgt at 2014-08-18 02:01 PM | Reply | Flag:

Lawyers turning human misery into profit?

Whoda thunk.

#10 | Posted by Sully at 2014-08-18 02:14 PM | Reply | Flag:

There should be no such thing as divorce court because the "State" should have nothing to do with marriage in the first place. Gay, Straight, Plural, whatever. In all other matters, the judge should assign each side an attorney. This is especially true in "David vs Goliath" cases. Just because one side has deep pockets (corporations or wealthy individuals) should not entitle them to better representation. And in the end, loser pays.

#12 | Posted by bogey1355 at 2014-08-18 02:20 PM | Reply | Flag:

Going thru this issue right now. 18 years of marriage...up in flames. It's cost me about $ 9K so far, but it ain't over yet.

#14 | Posted by CaseyJones at 2014-08-18 03:41 PM | Reply | Flag:

Good luck, Casey. Don't let the lawyers bleed you dry.

#15 | Posted by rcade at 2014-08-18 05:36 PM | Reply | Flag:

"50 Billion Dollar a Year Industry"

Like all other Billion Dollar Industries, they are "job creators", and the money goes right back into our economy.

Suckers-fools are easily parted from their money.
~Rush Limbaugh ..Newt Gingrich

#16 | Posted by SammyAZ_RI at 2014-08-18 06:58 PM | Reply | Flag:

"50 Billion Dollar a Year Industry"

Like all other Billion Dollar Industries, they are "job creators", and the money goes right back into our economy.

Suckers-fools are easily parted from their money.
~Rush Limbaugh ..Newt Gingrich

#17 | Posted by SammyAZ_RI at 2014-08-18 06:58 PM | Reply | Flag:

"Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and just give her a house."

- Rod Stewart

#18 | Posted by AMERICANUNITY at 2014-08-19 05:00 AM | Reply | Flag:

The only thing I see different between a wedding and a funeral is the guests of honour at a wedding walk out under their own power usually.

#19 | Posted by LarryMohr at 2014-08-19 05:18 AM | Reply | Flag:

Casey,

I should be so lucky. Mine cost $300,000 plus all the indirect costs of maintaining a large enough space to occasionally house three kids for thirteen years. It's impossible to recover from this level of damage. The system has morphed our founding principles into a complete fraud. Women usually get a free ride, but the system can turn on them as well, just less frequently.

#20 | Posted by nutcase at 2014-08-19 08:16 AM | Reply | Flag:

Thanks RCade, hope we can keep it civil to minimize the expense. Nutcase, sorry to hear that. I have heard other such horror stories

#21 | Posted by CaseyJones at 2014-08-19 09:34 AM | Reply | Flag:

#2 | Posted by danni

I suspect, that like a lot of things, this started out as a solution to another problem: the appointment of judges by corrupt politicians. Where human beings are involved, there will be corruption. The best we can hope for is trying to hold them accountable.

#22 | Posted by WhoDaMan at 2014-08-19 11:26 AM | Reply | Flag:

Going thru this issue right now. 18 years of marriage...up in flames. It's cost me about $ 9K so far, but it ain't over yet.

#14 | Posted by CaseyJones

If you have kids it is never over.

Good luck Bro. I feel your pain.

#23 | Posted by donnerboy at 2014-08-19 07:17 PM | Reply | Flag:

It's cute seeing all the comments from people who don't understand all any of it works. As a divorce lawyer, I can tell you that the majority of this documentary is crap. Here are facts:

1. Majority of divorce attorneys work in firms with less than 5 attorneys. We are talking about 90% are solo or working with 2-4 other lawyers.

Why? Because divorce law doesn't make much money per attorney. So big firms aren't interested unless its a small division to handle just the divorces of their big clients.

2. Most divorce attorneys aren't getting rich.

Why? Clients are billed $180-300 an hour. The vast majority are in the lower range. A lawyer working in a small firm works 8 hours per day. Generally about 4 hours is billed and 4 hours is to administrative work in running the law firm and talking to new clients. That's $800 per day. That's $4,000 per week or a little over $16,000 per month.

Sounds great!

But there is a catch. Clients don't always pay their bills. We generally get paid for 50-75% of the work we do. Clients disappear. And chasing them is more hazardous than you think as I'll discuss in a moment. So we are at best already down to $12,000 for the month. But don't forget, law firms cost money. Rent, office supplies, advertising, research costs, etc. often run another $4,000 per month.

Let's not forget those pesky student loans! Another $1,500 a month gone.

So now you have closer to $6,500 gross. Sounds great for listening to people complain about their significant others all day, yell at you for Judges disobeying the law, and dealing with the occasional death threat, right?

#24 | Posted by Sycophant at 2014-08-19 10:20 PM | Reply | Flag:

3. But clients are what truly make it expensive.

Why? Because clients are idiots. Seriously. It's not their fault though. Divorce is emotional and they make bad decisions.

For example, divorce cases are rarely about money. 99% of the time we all know approximately what the assets and debts are. Again, high 90%s, there are a few assets and a few debts. Only in the headlines are divorces about assets and debts.

A good attorney almost always knows approximately the breakdown the Court will use. It's almost always now splitting "marital assets" and "marital debts" in half with the exception of sometimes giving the primary parent use of the house if there isn't too much equity. Its insanely rare that we have to track down assets with private investigators. That's more for tabloid journalism and movies. So if we know the assets and debts, we can generally say what will happen in Court.

And even then, if a party still wants to fight, Court costs are low to fight over debts and assets because there aren't many arguments for dividing them other than equally. So Court is usually short with few witnesses. If the assets are worth a lot, then Court costs might be slightly higher but still a tiny tiny fraction of the assets value.

BUT WE HAVE A PROBLEM. Asset and Debt fights CAN become expensive because Clients can be stupid. Remember, divorce is emotional. Clients have are absolutely convinced the other party is hiding assets and want to be sure they aren't getting screwed. I've seen clients blow $10,000 fighting over a business worth $3,000. It's obscene. When a client demands we do fully Discovery, it gets incredibly expensive. Going through stacks of bank statements from the past 5 or 10 years or reviewing medical records can raise costs pretty high. But some clients demand it and we aren't allowed to say no.

4. Kids make divorces expensive.

The usual fight is NOT over assets and debts. What drives up costs are kids. People fight over custody...a lot. And that is expensive.

Remember, the Lawyer only gets a snapshot of the family situation. The Court gets a snapshot of a snapshot. So clients want to put into evidence absolutely everything they can. And they always have a million stories. But this is inherently difficult to prove in Court.

If we are arguing over a credit card debt, all I need is a current statement or a single sentence to tell the Court how much is owed. Same goes for most assets. Even if we disagree over the value of a house, a realtor can testify in 20 minutes.

But with kids.... it's all these factors and stories without simple proof. Johnny is doing poorly in school? So we need to have the teacher testify about Johnny doing poorly. Now both parents blame the other. Mom has to spend 2 hours talking about homework not getting down when Johnny is with Dad and show emails, text messages, and school records. Dad will do the same. And we'll call a witness or two to talk about seeing Johnny study with Dad. And that's ONE aspect of the custody battle.

Each party wants to win. So each party calls numerous witnesses and puts out any evidence it can showing what they are claiming is true despite the other side's story.

And ALL of this has to be prepped ahead of time. Its usually two hours of prep for every hour in Court.

CUSTODY battles in Divorces are what make them expensive day in and day out. And that isn't the fault of lawyers. It's parties and the nature of a system that demands proof (rightly or wrongly).

#25 | Posted by Sycophant at 2014-08-19 10:21 PM | Reply | Flag:

5. Pissed off clients make it MORE expensive.

The big criticism of a lot of people is the billing by lawyers. They get PISSED when you send them a letter after a phone call.

Example: You call your lawyer about Mom refusing to let the kids come to your brother's wedding. Your lawyer spends ten minutes on the phone with you.
Ten Minutes Billed
Now your lawyer writes you a letter detailing the conversation and the steps to be taken thereafter. The draft is proofread and printed. A copy is put into your file and another saved on the server. The letter is finally mailed to you. And the lawyer writes writes a note in the billing program regarding the conversation and the letter being sent.
Thirty Minutes Billed (If not more)

WTF right? At $200 an hour, you just spent $140 on a ten minute phone call. Why?!

Simple. Because clients are stupid. The reason attorneys have began doing this as a matter of practice is ethics complaints.

The Boards of Professional Responsibility aren't there to protect lawyers. They are there to protect clients.

Take the above example which happened to a fellow attorney. He DIDN'T send the letter to the client. The client called back four weeks later (two days before the wedding) and said, "Did we hear back from the Court on whether Mom has to bring the child to my brother's wedding?" The Attorney is confused. During the conversation, the client didn't ask him to file a motion with the Court. He only asked a letter be sent to Mom's attorney. A letter was sent but Mom's attorney did not respond.

The Client is irate and files an ethics charge with the Board. The Board attorney represents the Client, not the lawyer or the interests of justice.

The matter goes before an Inquiry Panel. It's a mini-trial. The Lawyer argues that the Client didn't ask for a motion to be filed and did not contact him for four weeks. The Panel, however, finds the Lawyer could have sent a letter to avoid any potential misunderstanding and the lawyer should have followed up with the Client regardless of what the Client said (just in case the Client meant to say he wanted a motion filed). The Lawyer receives a reprimand.

Ah if that was all, it would be nice. But because it goes before a Panel, the Lawyer also pays costs of the matter: Usually $3,000-$8,000.

And now you know why Lawyers send letters after phone calls.

The same goes for gathering information, having numerous meetings with clients, and otherwise doing work many see as unnecessary. The Lawyer who doesn't do these things can get hit with an Ethics complaint. And winning an Ethics Complaint is always next to impossible.

#26 | Posted by Sycophant at 2014-08-19 10:21 PM | Reply | Flag:

If you hate it so much, why do it? Everyone in the legal profession knows that it is in Family Law that you deal with the worst, most agitated and least reliable clients all quibbling over money and hours of visitation. At least with criminal law I usually know where my client is (- in custody) and don't have to deal with personal threats. As the saying goes, criminal law is bad people acting their best, and family law is good people acting their worst.

#27 | Posted by moder8 at 2014-08-20 11:10 AM | Reply | Flag:

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