By Guest Blogger
I am currently at the point in my Family Court case where I find almost everything about it funny. I’ve learned to not even pay attention to any motion or objection placed against me, because what does it really matter? I’ve become (for the most part) a LOT less anxious in the days leading up to yet another court case, because honestly nothing will happen anyway. I am a small business owner and bring my work with me to pass the time (or, most recently, my journal); in fact, the past few court dates I’ve had, all attorneys on the case agree on a set time for the day and it goes on the calendar and I don’t even have to wait for the next nothing to happen.
When I do find myself spending time in that gorgeous, beautifully decorated hallway designed with MORE than enough seats for the amount of people there, I tend to spend much of my time observing. Many of the other people that show up in that loud, overcrowded, obnoxious hallway amuse me. I’ve learned to people-watch; it can be quite fun at times and you can even make a game out of it. The next person to step out of the elevator: how deplorable will their outfit be on a scale of one to OH MY GOD? Will they be wearing pajama pants? A twelve-piece suit to show how well put-together they are? Will they be a first-timer, unsure if they have gotten off on the correct floor? Or are they ‘normies’: the ones that have been time and time again to get on with their case?
Another reason I find Family Court amusing is the fact that I am even there. Again. My case is completely and utterly ridiculous; I’ve had attorneys, advocates, confused clerks, GALs (guardian ad litems), confused JUDGES, social workers, and even a private investigator in the business for more than twenty years, tell me that they have never, in all the years they’ve been doing this work, seen or heard of such a shit-show of epic proportions. When you get to the point where you stand in that god forsaken hallway, looking at about 27 attorneys, GALs, social workers, etc. arguing and debating over the tiniest issue on that particular court date – there’s really nothing else you can do but throw your hands in the air and laugh.
All of this used to disgust me; I used to be in utter shock over some things that I have seen during my time in Family Court. And after a few years… I’m beginning to get back to that point. Some people have no self-respect, dignity, any ability to remain quiet (never mind the screaming), no care in the world that they may or may not look like a trashy parent/ addict/ ex-con to a judge…. The ones that really get to me, however, are the ones that bring their children with them and continue to do these things. Some just do not care if their child sees or hears their parents screaming at each other. They don’t care if their child or children hear every issue at hand, every detail, every word being spoken about why they are in this huge building with a million people, most of whom are either in the same boat, confused as to where to be, or just plain frustrated with being there for the millionth time.
In the State of Rhode Island, Family Court holds the standard that they look out for the best interest of the child. One would think that the parents involved in this court JUST MIGHT hold that same standard- no matter what pajamas they may be wearing. Sadly… many do not. Many, if not most, parents are there to get the most for themselves, to look like the better parent no matter how false that may be, to make the other parent (or in some cases, DCYF/the system) look like the most awful person on the face of the earth… I could go on. But I won’t.
“The best interests of the child.” Consider that for a moment. If the Court is looking out for the best interests of your child… shouldn’t you be doing the same? You’re in Family Court for one reason or another, and it involves your child. First, why, WHY would you bring that child to court? It’s scary enough as an adult to be there- imagine being that child, in that hallway or that courtroom, seeing and hearing the same things you are. Imagine how terrifying and confusing that would be. I do understand that sometimes a parent has no other option. Some parents have trouble finding any kind of work, never mind paying for a babysitter or being able to afford daycare. Some have no support system, no one to watch their child for the day.
Please don’t bring your child to court with you if you can avoid it in any way possible. Please. If you have no other choice: go hide in a corner somewhere, bring a snack, a book, a toy, anything to distract them from the horrors of the toxic swamp. Depending on the nature of your court case, your child could end up at that courthouse every week for supervised visits with the other parent. (Obviously not always the situation, but a scary thought nonetheless).
If you bring your child to court with you because you are too lazy to find someone to care for him that day, or to use that child as a reason to shove it in the other parent’s face, or to use him as a way for people to look at you and feel pity: I have ZERO sympathy. And quite honestly, you deserve to be there, in that swamp. Do I have sympathy for your child? Absolutely. For the judge you find yourself in front of, who sees that child standing next to his or her parent, with wide eyes and a look of fear on their face? Absolutely. For the people with common sense, sitting in that hallway waiting for their turn to actually protect their child? Of course. But you? The person who cares more about their own well-being than their OWN CHILD’s?! Nope. You belong there.
These are children. We as parents teach them, mold them into real-life, accomplished members of society. If you think for one second that bringing your child into that courthouse when you do not have to, or that putting your child in the middle of your divorce, break-up or custody case will not have a major effect on them, now or later in life, you are dead wrong.
You belong in that toxic swamp that you will never figure a way out of. You deserve the look of disgust on the judge’s face, and the scolding (yelling) from the bailiff to either shut your mouth or take your kid out of the courtroom. And you know what? I can almost guarantee that whatever you are seeking to benefit yourself in court that day, you will not get, and probably never will.