Family Law, the Protection of the Child

Introduction Family law is breaking the children by allowing the constant fighting to go on between parents, not protecting the children, and encouraging divorce. Family law has lost sight of its foundations not because it is not following the law, but because it is no longer protecting the security of family, children's rights, or the sanctity of marriage. The court system is not protecting the children's rights or the security of the family.

The court system is employing Guardian ad Liteum's who are not interested in doing their job because they are underpaid and they do not have enough of them to support the need for family law. Qualifications to be a Guardian ad Liteum(WI Stat 767.407,Minn. Stat 260.155) Requirements to do the job of a GAL ( WI Stat 767.407,Minn. Stat 260.155,) B. The security of the family.

Children are not being protected in the decision process of the family court, instead of focusing on the “best interests of the child “they are focusing on the law and the issues surrounding the law. (Ross, 1997) They are not emphasizing on the families involved, to look for a better solution to protect our children from harms way. (http://www.dearzachary.com) Restoring the sanctity of marriage.

A. Divorce should be a difficult process to dissuade couples from proceeding down that path without working through all their options first. B. Continued counseling should be a mandatory requirement in all divorce cases to help prevent issues from arising in the future.

The Protection of the Child. Conclusion A. Family law has lost sight of its foundations not because it is not following the law, but because it is no longer protecting the security of family, children's rights, or the sanctity of marriage. B. Family law needs to make some changes in the way it handles divorce, protects the children, if necessary returning back to the original standards in which marriage was based. 1 Family law ,the protection of the child

Family law is breaking the children by allowing the constant fighting to go on between parents, not protecting the children, and encouraging divorce. The standards in which family law was designed on, have broken down they no longer have any meaning. Because of this it has lost sight of its foundations not because it is not following the law, but because it is no longer protecting the security of family, children's rights, or the sanctity of marriage.

The court system is not protecting the children's rights or the security of family. Because it is employing Guardian ad Liteums that are being under paid and over worked since the states only allow so many to be employed at one time. Because of this issue they do not take the time to do their jobs properly or effectively. Creating decisions in children's lives being done hastily and without through investigation into the situation, sometimes causing more harm than good.

The qualifications of a GAL differ from state to state in some states like WI they are required to be “attorney's admitted to practice in this state.” (WI Stat 767.407) But for example in the state of Minn. “a GAL is required to have a BS or BA in psychology, social work, education, nursing, law, or child-related discipline or just have a combination of training, education, and experience.”(Minn. Stat 260.155)

Now the job description of the GAL also differs from state to state. They all are required to protect the best interest of the child but the statues do vary slightly, for example the Minn. Stat (2007) states that the “GAL must have sufficient contact with the child to ascertain the best interest of the child“(4). But the WI statues says nothing of the sort, so how if not required to spend time with the child can one decide the best interests of the child? They can not, at least not properly. In order to decide such a fate as a child's best interest you must understand the child and the situation, which is why the GAL's role is so important. But if the state does not invest there time and money into the roles of a GAL how can they expect them to succeed?

They can not, nor can they protect the children from harm. If the GAL took the child's wishes into consideration in all cases there might be less confusion on the children in the divorce process. The process is hard enough as it is on the children as it is, why make it harder by not considering their wishes in the process? As suggested by Bianchi (2000) “divorce is scary for both the parents and the children. The most frightening thing is that it's an unknown step for the entire family. Learning all you can about the legal process is one way to reduce the element of the unknown”(55).

Since the security of the family is not being considered in the courts, they are not protecting our children's best interests, instead they are focusing on the law. They are to busy trying to control the arguing family members then caring about the children. Or too busy trying to decide what is right then looking at the whole picture. As stated by the Ross (1997) “ no legal principle and no amount of written words can provide better guidance to a child's best interest than common sense”(21). Well if common sense is what governs a child's best interest then why do we have children falling through the cracks?

It seems if the courts emphasized on the families involved they would be looking for a better solution to protect our children so we wouldn't have cases like the David Bagby case. In this case which is in PA's court system and Canada's, shows exactly how the court system fails to protect our children. This case was a national case that happened in PA in November, 2001.

This case created book deals and movies, all because there were so many people who cared for this little boy except for the Canadian court system. This case is about a woman who shot her boyfriend 5 times all because he broke up with her. After shooting him she publicly announced she was pregnant with his child. Since the court system did not take the time to consider this child in its proceedings, this little boy's life was cut short. The courts allowed a mother who had killed this child's father, custody of this child subsequently causing his death.

This child had grandparents fighting for custody of this little boy yet the courts didn't even take the time to consider this a possibility. Instead they treated the grandparents like common criminals because thats what the mother wanted. The courts dragged their feet in deciding the outcome of this case allowing an accused murderer walk the streets free on bail because they decided that “the crimes of the the mother, as horrible as they were, though specific in nature she was not a threat to society as a whole” therefore releasing this mother on bail and allowing her to have custody of her child.

(“Dear Zachary,"2008) If the Canadian court system had a statute like the one we have here in WI which “prohibits visitation or physical placement if a parent kills the other parent.”(WI Stat. 767.44) maybe this would have prevented the mother from killing her child, along with herself. This is not protecting the child's best interest or the security of the family. If family law expects the people to put its trust in the decisions it makes in the best interest of the child then they need to not have cases like this slip through the cracks, the court needs to raise its standards.

The court also needs to restore the sanctity of marriage. By restoring marriage it will help prevent some of the issues we see today in the court system. The court needs to revise its divorce standards making divorce not such a simple process. Instead it should make it a difficult process to dissuade couples from proceeding down that path without working through all their options first.

Encouraging marriage to be more of a commitment than just a paper you sign. Hopefully it will cause people to realize that marriage especially with children is a serious thing which is not to be taken lightly. Divorce was something that was rarely heard of, now you can walk into a school classroom and one out of every five kids come from a divorced home. That is an unacceptable standard that needs to be changed.

It should also be a standard in the courts that there be continued counseling for the families involved in a divorce. Making this a standard will hopefully avoid some of the continuous back and forth in the court systems over custody issues in a divorced family. It will also help with the adjustment process that the families have to go through in a divorce and in some cases even recreate the family that once existed, to try again.

In conclusion although family law has lost sight of its foundations not because it is not following the law, but because it is no longer protecting the security of family, children's rights, or the sanctity of marriage. Family law needs to take a good hard look at the law again and revise its standards to change the way it handles divorce changing this process from an easy one back to the hard one it once was years ago. The family unit needs to be the foundation we stand on in the family court system remembering that its what help found our nation from the beginning. It needs to revise the standards it has in place to protect our children making them a priority in the court system after all they are the future.

References

ABA Guide to Family Law (n. d.) Retrieved May 16, 2009, from http://wilawlibrary.gov/topics/familylaw Bianchi, Anne (2000) Understanding the Law: A teen guide to family court and minors rights. New York: Rosen Publishing Group Dosal, Sue (2007, April) Minnesota Judicial Branch policy and procedures.(pp.180). Retrieved from http://www.courts.state.mn.us/?page=180 Kuenne, K.(Director). (2008). Dear Zachary:A letter to a son about his father [motion picture]. United States:MSNBC Films. Http//:www.dearzachary.com. Ross,Richard (1997) A day in part 15: Law and order in family court.

New York: Four Walls Eight Windows Sappenfield, Anne, & Shannon, Pam(2001, May). Legislation and petition to Wisconsin Supreme Court on Guardian Ad Liteum in actions affecting the family. Retrieved from http://www.legis.state.wi.us/lc/publictions/rl/r/_2001_04.pdf