After watching the recent documentary, Divorce Corp, depicting the family law courts, including judges, attorneys, and experts as all being greedy and corrupt, I was left with the take away: we all need to move to a Scandinavian country where they’re civilized and divorce is free.
From the trailers, I was expecting the movie would offer some positive alternatives to conventional litigated divorce, but instead I left feeling a little suspicious of all of my family law peers, wondering how many of them have paid off corrupt judges. Have I been naively sheltering myself for the last 18 years of practice? Once the fresh air outside of the theater had a chance to clear the fog, I realized I had been manipulated by the rather extremist opinions of the filmmakers. Sure, are there examples of corruption that can be found? Of course. Does that mean that the entire system is corrupt? No, of course not.
I have known many dedicated and honest judges that may get overwhelmed from time to time by the inefficiencies and lack of funding in our family law court system, but I have never witnessed any signs of the type of biased behavior that the movie tries to make it’s viewers believe is ubiquitous. Most of the family law attorneys I have known are just trying to make an honest living and deal with the challenges of their highly stressful jobs, just like any other professional running their own small business.
I think the movie misses the mark entirely. It’s focus is on a few corrupt players, which they try to convince us are representative of the average members of the family law bench and bar. That’s not been my experience.
The filmmakers offer no alternatives. What about mediation? Collaborative divorce? Divorce coaching and/or working with a settlement attorney to keep things out of court? I certainly didn’t hear these explained or any other alternatives offered.
As uncomfortable as I was with the portrayal of family law professionals in the movie, I wasn’t moved to write this until I read an email from Divorce Corp LLC I received entitled “We are just casualties in a great epidemic” that was written by “Victim of Family Court.”
This admittedly triggered a tinge of outrage in the pit of my stomach. Not only are they engaged in a full assault on family law professionals (which are generally pretty thick-skinned, so I haven’t been overly concerned for them), but it fuels the already blazing fire of self-victimization that’s at the heart of the entire problem with our family law system. If we took just a little ownership and responsibility for our situations in life, we might be just a bit more able to do something to bring about positive change, but instead of a documentary that empowers us to do so, it’s essentially telling us “we are just casualties” of a corrupt system. How does that help anything?
Once I was able to take a moment and reframe the situation, I became quickly inspired to do something about it. I think there needs to be a documentary that uplifts and inspires people to see their divorce as an opportunity for healing, learning, and growth, not as something horrible that’s happening “to them” made worse by a hopelessly corrupt system that will only lead to inevitable bankruptcy on top of divorce. What if instead of interviewing the “victims” of the system, we interviewed spiritual leaders for advice, family law professionals with helpful suggestions, or some average folks who realized something positive through the challenges they faced during their divorce and have something beneficial to offer? I believe that’s a movie that can help create a positive, meaningful shift in people’s experience of divorce.
If you are interested in collaborating on how we can get that movie made, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, I am deeply grateful to Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin for their public announcement of their intention to have a “Conscious Uncoupling.” For those of us who have been working behind the scenes for years, striving to bring about a new paradigm in divorce resolution, you have given us hope that the time for real change may finally be here!
Love & Light Ahead,
Michael C. Cotugno
Conscious Divorce Attorney & Coach
M.A. in Spiritual Psychology