Documentary: Divorce Corp

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’ve been super-excited to see the movie Divorce Corp since I found out about it a few weeks ago.  Initially, I was planning a 2.5 hour road trip to see the film at the closest location.  Thankfully, due to popular demand (probably thanks to Dr. Drew’s interview on CNN), it opened in a nearby theater and I was able to see the movie last night.

Divorce Corp takes a painful look at the way we typically handle divorce in the US.  Through interviews with lawyers, judges, custody evaluators and victims of the system, viewers are introduced to the intricate (and rather disturbing) workings of the money-making machine that is Family Court.  I don’t want to give away all of the movie, but here are a few notes that I jotted down while watching:

  • The average cost of a divorce in the US is $50,000.
  • Family Court has different rules than Criminal Court.  In Family Court, the constitution does not apply, and previous US Supreme Court rulings on parental rights are frequently disregarded.
  • Attorneys are free to contribute to judge’s campaigns; thus gaining favor for their clients in the courtroom.
  • Judges can and do rule however they prefer.  This could mean denying a fit parent access to his/her children, ordering the liquidation of assets to satisfy court costs or jail time.
  • Custody evaluators often work for the parent who hired them, not the best interest of the children.
  • In the past 20 years, court-ordered support payments have increased 30% while the divorce rate has decreased and women are earning more money.
  • At one point in the film, a lawyer referred to children of divorcing parents as “little bags of money.”

 

The film tackles topics such as child support, false abuse allegations and the billing process (click on the links to see snippets from the movie).  The viewing experience was a horrifically eye-opening hour and a half.  The interviews are thought-provoking. The visual presentation is simple and disturbing.  I knew it was bad, but I didn’t realize it was that bad.  It has never been so clear:  we must change the way we think about and approach divorce.  I only wish the filmmakers had spent some time showcasing the healthier options available to divorcing couples.

Divorce Corp is scheduled to be in select theaters for the next few days.  I highly recommend seeing it with your ex, your soon-to-be-ex, your happy spouse and/or anyone who knows anyone who is/was/might someday be divorced.

 

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4 Comments

  1. I’ve kind of groaned at this documentary – fearful that it is a one-sided, overly negative view of the system. I know I should go see it but from your review it sounds like my fears would be well-grounded.

    My concern is that the family court rules differ by jurisdiction, they’re not uniform throughout the U.S. Did they give any examples of courts that were doing it “right?”

    And while I have no doubt that there many changes that could be made for the better in the legal system, I think the change can start with people resolving to settling out of the court system and handling it differently. And that speaks to the need to change the cultural norms around divorce.

    • The film didn’t closely examine any courts in the US that are doing it better. They did, interestingly enough, take a look at Scandinavia and their divorce process- which is very different from ours.

      I agree that change must start in the hearts and minds of those going through divorce. The vicious system only exists because our culture feeds it (with a little help from the lawyers, as is demonstrated by the movie). I hope the documentary inspires people to think twice about the route they choose to take through a separation.

  2. As a happily divorced father from WA state, our mandatory mediation program wasn’t terrible. But, it was still almost 6k dollars, employed attorneys. Thankfully, we agreed upon everything up front. Had it been a custody issue, it would have been a nightmare. How do I know? Because many of my divorced friends have lived it.

    The worst was a friend whom it took two years after the guardian ad litem submitted a report about how the mother was passed out with bloody syringes on the kitchen table and the toddlers were running around naked with feces on the floors. Keep in mind that the CPS in our county will let children live with that single mother but then take away the children of two professionals whom smoke marijuana, yet, never have in front of their children.

    Like the documentary states, our courts are the land’s biggest child abusers.

    I am embarrassed to be an American.

    • I hope, as this information makes its rounds, that more people will begin thinking outside the box and taking charge of their own divorce process. There are more effective and less expensive options.

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