Joint Custody /Truncillito/comments
cmfce at his.com
Sun Sep 10 14:30:25 EDT 2000
subject: Joint Custody /Truncillito/comments
from: Smart Marriages
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Sorry not to get word to the list in time, but NPR Talk of the Nation
did an hour-long debate last week on issues around mandating
joint physical custody as a way to reduce divorce.
The show was inspired by a particular
ruling in Massachusetts last week that a couple
must share physical joint custody *every-other-year*, rather than
every-other-week. The point was made that it's easy to manage the
every-other-week routine if you live in the same community,
but if you're a thousand miles
apart, kids need longer stretches between travel.
Calls from adult children-of-divorce were most interesting. One
said she thought her step-brother who had every-other-week visitation
was much better off than she was with her every-other-weekend routine.
She said parents with only weekend visitation feel out of the
loop....weekends don't do it for them, and that they
operate with anxiety and suspicion about
what does or doesn't go on in the work-a-day, school week.
Which, by the way, brings me to the Ed Truncillito no-one-is-married
divorce law thread. The debate simply became too heated
with too many personal attacks from his defenders and attackers to continue
it on the Smart Marriages list. There
are strong feelings on both sides - and way too many comments for our
list which is focused on strengthening marriage - not on divorce reform.
We will continue to include NEWS items, articles and research
on divorce reform, joint custody, etc,- and even the occasional comment -
but will try to stay focused on marriage strengthening initiatives.
I'm going to post a comment from Judy Parejko that sums up the
Ed Truncillito case. Judy presented at the
Denver Smart Marriages conference on the issue of Divorce Reform
with Judge Helen Brown and divorce attorney, John Crouch. There's is
an interesting tape that I recommend to you. #750-709 ($10)
I'm also going to give you
Ed Truncillito's web site: http://www.no-one-is-married.com/
You can follow the action there. And, if Judy Parejko gets a
list serve/discussion group up and running, I'll post that information as
as I have it.
Divorce Reform page:
Here is Judy's comment followed by interesting comments on the
joint custody debate from readers of the list.
I would like to take up the discussion where it was left off over a week
ago after attorney Tina Snelling wrote to you about Ed Truncellito's two
previous no-fault divorces - that she claimed he ended. I presume her
point was to sully his cause by pointing out some illogic here. When we
can't argue a case on its merits, we do so with character attacks. I
would have much preferred to see her reasoned arguments about why Mr.
Truncellito's claims about the practice of divorce in Texas is flawed.
In addition, my understanding is that both Truncellito and his wife EACH
had two previous marriages. That fact was left out by Ms. Snelling. But
why do people want to go into the personal side of the story? Because
sentiment can be so easily swayed this way. And then we discount the
My own brief summary of what Truncellito is attempting to point out is
this: divorce practice for the past 30 years in Texas has been
fraudulent in that "the no-fault ground" was just ONE of the choices for
divorcing spouses. Texas left other grounds in place to be used if the
divorce was CONTESTED. But most "ordinary folk" did not understand this
(just as is happening in Pennsylvania as a an article on this newslist
pointed out) -
and therefore the attorneys - and the bar association - hijacked divorces
and turned them ALL into No-Fault. Truncellito is just bringing this
error in the practice of law to the attention of the Texas Supreme
Court and asking them to clear it up.
Now, why should that be so hard thing to do? It should be
accomplished fairly easily. Why the major resistance? That is the
reason for the class-action lawsuit. There is
MAJOR RESISTANCE to clarifying the law! Without the pressure of
a class-action suit, this appeal too will be denied. And
it will probably be denied anyway because it is TOO HARD to look at the
years of mistakes and also the extent of the damage that has been
perpetrated "in the name of justice."
And as for a wife (or husband's) fear that marriage might turn into a
prison - has anyone heard any stories of spouses who were FORCED to live
with someone who treated them badly? Not in this country - as far as I
know! If the marriage is unbearable, a spouse leaves. NO ONE can MAKE
them stay. But when it comes to the legal institution called "marriage,"
and the action of dissolving it, we have to state our reasons - at least
in Texas. The best venue for this is in a face-to-face PRIVATE meeting
where the two parties can decide on their own - and without interference
- how they are going to resolve their common dilemma. That means that a
HIGHLY SKILLED "relationship specialist" (new job category!) should be in
attendance to guide them in this discussion - like a skilled surgeon
overseeing heart surgery, not just your local meat-shop butcher.
I have MUCH MORE to say about this problem with our way of handling
divorce in the courts and also this legal challenge in Texas but will
hold back and save it for those who are interested. I am thinking of
setting up a list service for those who wish to follow this undertaking
in Texas as it moves along.
And one more thing: we use the courts when we feel we HAVE NOT BEEN
HEARD through other means of communication. And the class-action
lawsuit, "Casualties of No-Fault Divorce Fraud vs. The State Bar of
Texas," is a way to be heard when other means have failed. People don't
go to this level unless they feel deeply wronged. Like they said in the
recent Florida tobacco lawsuit - it wasn't about the money. It was about
finally putting an end to the deceit that could be stopped in no other
jparejko at juno.com
Here are comments on the Joint Custody debate.
Jed Abraham's article on how the prospect of joint custody affects marriage
has a high hokum factor for me. As an adult child of divorce and occasional
family lawyer and professor of family law, I have real doubts that potential
custody arrangements enter parents' minds when things are going well, or
while their marriages and families are falling apart, except to feel sorry
that the kids might be "children of divorce."
Joint physical custody requires such a high level of cooperation and
maturity on the part of divorced parents that if they can achieve it, they
can and should stay married. (Joint legal custody doesn't require the same
daily cooperation.) My recommendation, if courts are moving back to joint
physical custody, is to award the family home 50/50 to the parents with the
stipulation that the children live there, near their familiar schools and
friends. Each parent would then need to acquire an apartment (probably a
cheap one)and would move between the apartment and the family home on the
days he or she had custody. Mom and Dad broke up the family, so let them be
the ones to suffer inconvenience. No more "you can't go to the game; you'll
be at Dad's" or "I left my history book at Mom's" or "why get a Christmas
tree here when there's one at home?" If the parents are really cooperating,
they could share the apartment, too, as they'll be there at different times.
But then, if they can do that, they probably should have stayed married.
Mr. Abraham's joint custody arrangement sounds like a fantasy. Noncustodial
parents often complain that the custodial parent is not "spending the child
support on the children." Because the custodial parent has to pay greater
overhead--higher utility bills, higher house or rent payments, school fees,
higher food costs--the expenses are difficult to see. They'll be just as
difficult to see under a joint custody regime unless the parents pay the
bills together--and again, if they can do that, they could probably make the
The bottom line is that there is no way to make divorce "family friendly."
Joint custody looks good in theory but is, in fact, an inconvenient mess for
children and a never-ending tether to one's former spouse. Regardless of
custody arrangements, unless one parent relinquishes parental rights, you
can't divorce your children and therefore are always going to have some
contact with their other parent. To increase that contact in a usually
hostile situation and call it "joint custody" creates havoc in children's
I wonder how the new spouse and kids would feel about moving back and
forth into the house with the kids! Or over the miles.....
"Impact of Divorce on Children Debated" is an article by Yomi S. Wronge in
today's (9/6/00) San Jose Mercury News. After citing the findings in the
following quotes from Wallerstein, the reporter writes: "But E. Mavis
Hetherington, a leading scientist in the field, said that many children of
divorce make it through unscathed." Hetherington is then quoted as saying,
"Many of the observations Wallerstein makes are good observations, but she
often treats divorce like the kids have had a terminal disease they are
never going to recover from," said Hetherington, professor emeritus at the
University of Virginia.
In more than 30 years of research on the impact of divorce on the family,
Heatherington said, she has found that about 20 percent to 25 percent of
children show serious long-term problems with intimacy and relationships
compared with 10 percent of children of non-divorced families. That means
there's at least 75 percent of children whose parents are divorced who are
doing fine. "Research shows that while divorce is painful, and that
even as adult children look back and say that was probably one of the most
painful experiences I went through, most of them are doing all right," she
said. "That's good news, and we should be underscoring that."
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