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Thursday, 21 January 2010

Divorce Court

Punched and Judy-ied


By Richard Carreno
Junto Staff Writer
Let's get Judge Judy out of the courtroom. The divorce courtroom, that is.

Of course, ravenous, craven divorce lawyers, who feed the frenzy surrounding marital calamities, will oppose this sanity. So will lower court judges and their courthouse lackeys who would lose work -- and the coarse enjoyment they get from bullying defendants.

The winners? The rest of us.

Marriage, however defined, is a contract.

Some people might want to consider tying the knot as a sacrament, accompanied by white-gown ritual and religious mumbo jumbo. Pleasant. Nice. A good time. But not a legal, binding contract.

Marriage isn't even a civil contract. It's a free-will partnership, and as such it should be as binding as any school-yard, blood-brother oath. Let's cut wrists, why not?

Nuptials are a private agreement in which consenting adults agree to share and profit from a mutually shared risk. (However unwise that risk might be). Whether it's between man and woman, same sex partners, or amongst several persons, that contract is none of government's business.

What government hath not created, government cannot asunder.

Wise participants in the ritual, of course, will draft a mutually agreed-upon pre-nuptial agreements in the likelihood that their partnership is dissolved. That likelihood, of course, is likely, with 50 percent of all unions ending in divorce. And that's just the marriages that formally break up.

What about children? What happens if their parents split?

Yes, a sticking point. Yes, a sticking point that will probably have to resolved, in many cases, by one or more parties suing in a lower civil court for shared child support and shared custody.

But even if a case winds up before civil court judge, guidelines for child support and custody should be simple, free of confusing legalese, and equitable.

In child support, each party's income and means should proportionately assigned in determining a support determination. Done! In custody -- unless reckless behavior by a parent is proven -- 50-50. Done!

Of course, the simplicity of proposal runs counter to everything that the legal establishment cherishes -- complication, expense, confusion, delay -- all fused with creating anger and, ta dah! -- lucrative monetary practices.

Divorce lawyers aren't adversarial. As most other courthouse cronies, their unstated blood-brother oath is simple: KICS (Keep It Complicated Stupid).

As long as lawyers and judges can keep public anger over self-serving divorce procedures down to a dim roar -- like a two-car collision -- they reckon nothing will change. They're right.

That's why we need to look at divorce with the same amount of national horror that we bestow upon plane crashes. After all, millions are involved. That is, millions of people.

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