Where do you turn and to whom do you ask for help when you experience litigation abuse and/or judicial misconduct?
This was an excellent question from one of my readers. Unfortunately, I’m all too familiar with the judicial misconduct in her state as well as the absence of effective domestic violence resources.
My first reaction was that this reader’s friend was an extraordinarily lucky person because she is not alone. Too many of us are when we come face-to-face with Barbara Bentley’s description of the criminal “justice” system:
The criminal justice system is just that. It’s justice for the criminal. The victim is just a minor inconvenience.
Step One: Cut Your Losses
In A Dance with the Devil, Ms. Bentley describes how she did the smartest thing anyone in this situation can do: she disengaged. In other words, she severed the emotional connection in her heart with her estranged husband. Yes, I know. This is exceedingly difficult to do. Been there. It is extraordinarily difficult to walk away from a crazy-making abusive relationship ~ especially after we’ve invested significant emotional energy in trying to make it work. Ms. Bentley had invested heavily financially as well. Me too.
Yet, as my former mother-in-law frequently advised, it isn’t smart to “put good money after bad.” At some point, we have to cut our losses. If we don’t, we’ll end up bankrupt in every way possible ~ emotionally, spiritually, and financially.
Litigation abuse has two players. We can be so invested in responding and reacting to abuse from a pit bull that we loose all sense that we can exert control over the situation. Set your own rules. Play your own game. And, sometimes the smartest thing to do is to just stop fighting. Walk away.
I can hear you gasp. Walk away? Yes. Walk away. Yes, I know. You’ve invested heavily. You want to reap the rewards of that investment. I hear you. Been there too.
During law school, I had a front row seat to a divorce trial that would make the War of the Roses look like a good time. The spouses refused to disengage. Their attorneys made a fortune. The couple’s $1.7 million fortune and 17 room mansion on Lake Michigan went to pay attorney’s fees. He blamed her. She blamed him. Truth be told, they both played a role.
Tina Turner, on the other hand, made the courageous decision to walk away. Yes, it cost her millions. But, instead of wasting her time in a futile and expensive court battle, she invested her time wisely rebuilding her career. Ms. Turner knew that nobody wins a win-lose game. Both parties inevitably end up losing big. So, she took control of her destiny and moved forward with her life. By not fighting, she won. Ike lost.
Step Two: Surround Yourself with Surviving Sisters
Vernetta Cockerham’s case went to the North Carolina appellate court twice before she got to have a trial date. But, she ultimately prevailed because Rita Anita Linger packed the court room with domestic violence survivors wearing purple and white ribbons. It intimidated the police department that failed to protect Vernetta and her daughter into settling for $430,000.
This strategy is extraordinarly effective, but it takes lots of planning, publicizing, and persuading to achieve. You’ll be asking people to commit an inordinate amount of time away from their own priorities. So, pick your battle wisely. It is easier if you can secure a commitment from your local domestic violence shelter or house of worship or established court watch group. It is easier if you have an exceptionally large family who will back you up. But, most of us don’t have those resources or support.
So, my suggestion is that you talk it up with women who are walking in your shoes: your surviving sisters. You may think you don’t know any. You do. They just aren’t talking. Pour some wine. Start the conversation. You’ll be shocked at what you hear. Make a commitment to be there for each other. (See step four for an alternative approach.)
Step Three: The Write Stuff
Journals are marvelous tools for jettisoning emotions so that we can clear our heads. This is where you do your “ugly cry” and vent. You can not afford to whine in public. People who can help you will not respond positively to “poor me” control dramas. The only people who will listen to you are enablers who will keep you stuck in the past. This is not healthy. And, your whining will alert brutes that there’s a victim in the neighborhood. Your whining will send signals to overworked bureaucrats that you are someone who is easily dismissed or ignored.
As women, we frequently wail that men need to find their feminine side. Well, we women would be smart to cultivate our masculine sides too. I’m not talking about being aggressive. There’s power in taking control of our lives and making wise choices for our futures. We’re more attractive after we’ve learned to rescue ourselves.
Step Four: Establish Your Credibility and Speak Truth to Power
It costs absolutely nothing to start a WordPress blog. Examiner.com pays people to examine issues. It’s not much, but it would be a great way to have your voice heard in your community. It’s an easy way to develop expertise, credibility, and persuasive writing skills. You can launch trial balloons and see which way they fly. It may take several months, but you will eventually discover that you have lots of sister survivors who are looking for someone to take the lead. These people may become your base camp for court watch and court packing.
Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper when one of their articles exposes an injustice. Again, don’t rant and whine. Be brief and persuasive. Why should people in your community care? Politicians read these letters. It is the first step in change.
When you have established your credibility as an advocate, you can submit an op-ed piece and ask for it to be published. An op-ed piece is an editorial written by readers of a publication rather than the editorial staff. Ask your friends and colleagues to read what you have written to make sure your voice is clear and persuasive. It will probably take you a couple of days to write something that grabs people’s attention. But, it will be well worth your time because this is what legislative aides read to get a sense of the work they need to do.
Eve Ensler’s “The Terminator Is Back” for the Huffington Post is an excellent example of a blog op-ed. As you can see, blogs are more edgy than print media. While my writing is a far cry from Ms. Ensler’s expertise, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published my op-ed piece on the first anniversary of the day Crystal Judson Brame was fatally shot by her estranged husband, Tacoma, WA’s chief of police.
Step Five: Talk to the Presiding Judge
Every court system has a boss called the presiding judge. Some are more open to talking with the general public than others. They won’t talk to you about your case, but some may agree to a meeting with a small group of concerned citizens and/or executives or advocates from your local domestic violence agency. Alternatively, your advocate on the prosecutor’s staff might arrange the meeting if a pattern and practice of litigation abuse and/or judicial misconduct has been established. Address the judge as “your honor.” Wear business attire. Present your case clearly and concisely ~ 30 seconds or less. Be prepared. Many court systems are not aware of judicial training available via the Family Violence Prevention Fund.
Step Six: Judicial Selection Process, Court Watch, and Court Reform
Every jurisdiction has a judicial selection process. Typically, local bar associations hold a lot of sway over who becomes a judge. Some may entertain input from you. If they won’t, you can start your own court watch group. This is where having a following on a blog is helpful.
Since I’ve worked on both sides of the bench, I know that people who don’t prevail often feel they have experienced injustice. Sometimes this is true. Some judges are diligent and well-informed. Some aren’t. Some aspire to the bench because they have a strong sense of social justice. Some discover it’s tough to practice law with a hangover and decide to hide their substance abuse problems beneath their judicial robes. Some respect their life partners. Some are abusive behind closed doors. Some work hard. Some wish you’d shut up already so they can hit the golf course or have an “afternoon delight” with their lover. Sometimes victory turns on whether one party is better prepared than the other. And, sometimes we flat out are on the wrong side of the law and need somebody to give us a wake-up call.
A growing trend is to establish “family justice” courts. In these jurisdictions, all cases involving domestic violence allegations are heard by the same judge. The judicial system is slow to recognize litigation abuse when one judge hears the criminal complaints, another judge hears the divorce matters, and a third judge handles custody disputes. Many judges are clueless about domestic violence issues. But, when one well-informed judge hears all these matters, the pattern emerges quickly. Still, as Barbara Bentley discovered, even a savvy judge can have a tough time setting boundaries for some determined pit bull abusers.
Change happens when one of us gets stomped on and sufficiently angry to shout “enough already!”
Unfortunately, waving a magic wand and wishing the end of litigation abuse doesn’t work. It’s the fight in the trenches that will win the war; one person at a time standing up for what’s right while at the same time knowing when to cut the losses. Thanks, Carolyn, for presenting an excellent blueprint for action. I’m honored that you included me as an example.
You are so right, Barbara. Thanks for leaving your comment. The respect is mutual. Would you like to write a guest column?
I was grateful he left but I knew there would be a high price. My X was given custody of the kids due to school attendence issues. My oldest had improved tremendously and then the middle daughter was on her way. The youngest just attacked me and the school refused to help. They like the courts have apparently bought his story. The kids are used like weapons and the money hasn’t been paid to me as he has lived the high life. It’s sad that the courts don’t see it and even worse that the kids attorney doesn’t listen to the children. Silly me I thought when I stated abuse after he was out and my oldest was the first to file a complaint that there would be support. It is an ignorant world in which we live. His idea is to divide and conquer so he split all of the girls up. He really didn’t want to work too hard. One is in Washington, one is in Nevada and the youngest is with him. I am thrilled to see that there is information on the internet and plan on doing more to bring this to the public. Thank you for having a safe place to get the information out. We are not alone but we must be strong.
Thank you, Marianne, for visiting my web site and leaving a comment. I am so sorry to hear about your experiences.
It appears to me from some of the web sites that I have visited that men are banding together to learn from each other how they can abuse the women in their lives legally by manipulating the court system.
Last night, I watched a program on DATELINE about a woman in India who was persecuted and prosecuted for being raped. In her culture, she was expected to commit suicide because she brought such shame on her family.
She refused. She decided to fight the injustice. She captured the attention of a New York TIMES columnist and his wife ~ both Pulitzer Prize winners. And, she is now educating young girls and advocating for women’s legal rights.
IMHO, we need to do the same thing here. I have long believed that if each of us chipped in what we know that we can prevail.
While I too believe many people are clueless about abuse, I also see a whole lot of callous indifference. Sometimes when I have asked for help, I feel like the person who is being PAID to help me is essentially saying, “too bad, so sad. . .next!”
So, I’m using my web site to blow the whistle on a corrupt system. I felt for decades that I was the only one having these experiences, but I realize now that there are millions of us out there. We just need to find a way to work together and raise holy hell.
As I have learned from the illegal loss of my son for the past two years. An insane illegal amount of fraudlet child support of the amount of $600.00 dollars a month for a child of a man who makes upward of $80,000.00 per year with two homes, one illegally taken, three cars, two illegally stolen via a corrupt court system. Lies and perjury by him and his legal counsel on the face of record proven by third party persons not in the divorce case, but completely ignored by the court, i.e. the Judge who allowed and continues to allow this corruption. An illegal award of over and upward of $60,000.00 dollars for legal counsel for the husband all while the women in the divorce is illegally forced to represent herself with no income of her own and at most with only hope of an potentional income of $800.00 a month due to lack of skills, schooling, and a tramautic Brain Injury. One can tell, that Justice is not free and injustice comes with a price tag on it sold to the one who is willing to abuse.
I was just offered $15,000 from a very prominent family son in my state to drop criminal and civil charges for domestic violence etc. I have had a restraining order in exparte for almost a year because every time there is a court date a new lawyer from the defense shows and says that they were just hired in the am and are not ready for trial. We have tried to fight that and loss. He was ordered to pay my mortgage as he had stolen all the money from joint accounts and even was released money from one account that was not emptied. He did not pay. My house that I redid myself over a two year period just foreclosed. He is in contempt of court but now I am being told it has “no bite”. So my choices are to walk away with enormous debt and nothing, take $15,000 which would need to be just given straight to my parents to pay them back or to represent myself in court next month. I have called everyone from the State Attorney, Congress etc etc and all the local and National News stations. I am hoping that someone takes notice and tries to help me. I had a friend lawyer in LA say “these are really really evil people, just walk away”. Well I hear what you all are saying but shouldn’t the really really evil people have to face the music? I know if I had done something that bad would probably be in jail and have to pay up if I had the money. Not fair. I am fighting this and I will win. Tina let Ike get away with that and we are congratulating her. NO, she had the money to fight this, the image to help bring awareness to the issue and effect change and she walked away. I don’t care if she walked away but congratulations is a little much for me. I just walked away too…. from my husband and won the Amy’s Courage Fund… anyone congratulating me???NO. I guess since I was only abused a couple years it’s not deserving. And she just left us all behind. Thanks Tina.
I am writing a book about DV, litigation abuse, and prescription drug abuse, doing 3 shorts and a self help book AND moving forward living my dreams. I have no emotional ties but I know what is right and what is wrong and if I don’t fight this I am not a good citizen. Just my “Next” opinion.
Take a deep breath, Jean. We don’t make wise choices when we are so angry we see red. I’m not saying your aren’t justified in being livid. Anger is a healthy response to injustice. And, it sounds like you’ve seen more than your fair share of evil bastards.
After you have vented your anger in a healthy and productive way, I’m going to suggest you read Vernetta Cockerham’s story. She got screwed seven ways from Sunday by the system until she met Rita Anita Linger.
IMHO, you’ve gotten bad legal advice if you are proceeding with a civil case before you have a guilty verdict in the criminal case. You don’t have to pay the State’s Attorney to prosecute. As soon as you have the guilty verdict, you can use that to go straight to the damages aspect of your civil case. Then, you’ll have more leverage in terms of a settlement dollar amount. You can file a lien against property and bank accounts to collect your settlement.
Rita Anita packed the courtroom in Vernetta’s case with DV survivors wearing purple and white ribbons. They scared the crap out of the people Vernetta was suing as well as the court. She got herself a VERY nice settlement a few hours later.
The news media hears so many stories like ours that they have become deaf. We have to do something dramatic to get them to show up and cover our stories. So, I’m going to suggest that you ask everybody you know ~ everybody they know ~ to show up the next time you have a court date wearing their ribbons. It sends a VERY loud and clear message that We the People won’t tolerate domestic violence.
The other thing that you can do is have a little “chat” with the presiding judge as well as the state’s attorney about organizations that provide DV training. Don’t go alone to these meetings or they’ll eat you alive. Remember that these folks are politicians answerable to the general public.
BTW, you are incorrect about Tina Turner. When she left Ike, she didn’t have a damned dime. She was broker than broke and sleeping on friends’ couches and cleaning their houses ~ Ike stuck her with MILLIONS of dollars in debt. It took her YEARS to rebound. But, she did.
In closing I’m going to send you some hugs because I’m sure you feel like you are fighting this battle all alone. Please take the time to visit MamaLiberty and some of the other sites on my blog roll. There are people all across the country who are courageously telling the system that we won’t tolerate callous indifference to those of us who have experienced abuse.
Good luck, Jean! Please post another comment if I you need encouragement or someone just to hear you. I’m not sure what the Amy’s Courage Fund award is, but I’m going to say congratulations.
Me thinks the judge in your case might be abusive behind closed doors in his/her own home.
Please surf around my site for the stories of those who have walked in your shoes. It might give you some ideas. There are several sites on my blogroll that focus exclusively on this issue.
And, it might make some sense to go on SSI disability. Park your behind in a recliner until somebody in the system wakes up to the injustice you’ve experienced. Sometimes the only thing that works is to stop fighting, park our butts, and refuse to move until the people who are being PAID to help us get off their lazy butts and do something on our behalf.
I had to take a deep breath after reading through all the responses. As the author of “A Dance with the Devil” I have seen injustice in action, but not to the extent that some of you have posted. Yes, I almost lost my life when my husband tried to murder me by ether asphixiation. Yes, I lost a home in foreclosure and I had to pay the creep alimony and give him half of my retirement fund. But, I was fortunate to have a second home free from his name, a long-time job, and no children to be used a pawns.
I get many emails from victims through my website http://www.adancewiththedevil.com and this has prompted me to write a book on how the legal systems fails the victims of psyhopaths, sociopaths, and domestic violence. I feel I can get the book published because (1) I have been published by a major NY publisher, (2) I have a NY literary agent, (3) I just won the Paul H. Chapman award from the Foundation for Improvement of Justice in Atlanta, and(4)there are many stories around the country to provide evidence of the legal abuse.
If any of you would be interested in providing your stories for consideration, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All stories will be treated with confidentiality. I will eventually put together a questionnaire but I haven’t gotten that far. Currently, I’m collecting emails in my Justice file.
Let me put it out there right now that most authors do not make a profit from their books, unless they are a famous personality or have connections with the NY literarti. So, unless a book becomes a NY Times best seller, an author may not make more than their advance. When you consider the time involved, let alone the expense, it is not a profitable endeavor for the author. Fortuantely, I wrote my first book to help others and knowing that I am doing that is my reward.
Thanks again, Caroline, for your advocacy and for giving women a place to find information that may help them.
Congratulations on winning your prize! And, welcome home!
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do i just have everyone i know where purpe ribbons or o i need to talk with a group, i need help with my custody case soon to b ex is abusive to kids accused son from previous marriage of molesting 2 younger sons and now he is try is accuse me of parent allienation syndrom. had oldest son ( 14 ) do a sex devience test he passed with flying colors but he is trying to get thrown out because no lie detector was taken have been in this mess for about 1 1/2 years have a trial for july 7th.
I’m so sorry to hear this. Thanks for leaving a comment. Since you have time, I would highly recommend that you get as many people to come as you can possibly pack into the court room. You don’t have to contact a group, but there might be some in your area that would be happy to participate.
A woman in Canada had success with just two people with her in court.
Have you checked out RightsForMothers.com? It is on my survivor’s blog roll. Nancy Carroll is the expert on these issues, and you will find a wealth of information on her web site.
Also, I hope you’ve had a chance to check out Vernetta Cockerham’s story on my blog. I’ve written a lot of posts about her. She packed the court room and finally got herself some justice.
Please come back and leave more comments if/when you have questions. I don’t have any resources to help individual people, but I’m pretty resourceful. You must be too ~ you found this little site.
Thanks for visiting and good luck!
Thanks to everyone for your comments; since I have found this blog, Caroline, I am feeling so empowered, and not so helpless. I’m going to check out the Mother’s blog and MamaLiberty. I want to help others if I can, and am working on my own walk as well. Thanks again.
You aren’t alone anymore. Through the Internet, we are gathering and kicking butt.
Thanks for this comment, Jobby. You have touched my heart.
Wow, I have never come across your site before, but thank you. I also went to DePaul Law School also!
A comment on litigation abuse. I am lucky in that I have never experienced physical abuse, but plenty of verbal abuse during my marriage. I finally decided to divorce in 2003 and have experienced every type of hearing/aspect of the Illinois divorce process. We had a 20 day trial, with a 50 page decision in 2006. Court found for me re support and property. Then he appealed. AppCt affirmed for me in another 50 page decision in 2008.
Decision is a landmark case in Illinois. Highest support award ever given by a court. Contact me for details.
Last December he filed a motion to reduce my [record setting] support. He is a bankruptcy attorney and claims that his income is down [in this economy!]
Oh, did I mention that he must be a narcissist?
We are in front of Judge Jacobius, Chief Judge of the Cook County Domestic Relations Division. He is fair and thoughtful. The hearing for the motion to reduce is this fall. And in the mean time X is trying to make this a whole new trial. Next hearing on August 17th is to determine the scope of the issues and how many witnesses he can call [he wants to call 21!]
So, most of my award of property has gone to pay attorneys, who are very good and work hard for me.
Found a local web site for a subscription fee that reports on the Illinois Divorce Trial Court written opinions. [Illinois Divorce Court Digest]. It is helpful in showing how other cases at the trial court are handled and what decisions are made. Before this, one could only rely on the Appellate opinions.
So although I still have the means to fight him, I wish our court system would penalize those, like my ex, who use the court system to hurt others. The only reason he is doing this is to destroy me. I have offered to settle over and over before the divorce trial, during the appeal and recently during mediation with Judge Shields, a retired divorce court judge. He won’t settle for anything reasonable.
I have learned to live with this situation as a chronic condition. And I have a joke that I tell myself. Someday someone will call and tell me that they have good news and bad news. The good news is: your X is dead. The bad news is your X is dead.
So thank you for the faith and hope!
LGH, thank you for your own faith and hope. The reason I support the Family Violence Prevention Fund is because they and the National Network to End Domestic Violence were the ONLY organizations who did anything to try to protect me from the judge’s abuse and stalking. I will be forever grateful for their support when ALL the other organizations slammed the door in my face because of his power.
They do a great deal behind the scenes ~ work that rarely gets publicized ~ that makes a tremendous difference. They immediately, for example, offered legal assistance to one of the women Alexis Moore asked me to help. I was blown away by their quick response to my request and by their generous offer of substantial legal support. However, I was shocked, appalled, and horridly embarrassed that the woman turned down their help. It’s exactly what she claimed she wanted and needed. I was left wondering about her true agenda.
All this being said, I agree completely with you that way more needs to be done. I have been and will continue to be highly critical of many of the state coalitions. I am particularly pissed that the NC Coalition, for example, fired RitaAnita Linger, who was the most amazing advocate for abused women and children in the country.
And, I’m inordinately distressed that so much funding goes to fighting terrorism ~ they just asked for another $33 billion last week for the war in Afghanistan ~ abroad while so very little goes to fighting the terrorism so many of us experience every day in our homes.
I participated in a conference call last week including someone from the Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women (VAW) office. I regret that I didn’t catch their representative’s name. She announced during the call that the VAW office ~ which is now run by Judge Susan Carbon ~ will be issuing grants to fund litigation in cases like yours.
Judge Carbon literally wrote the judicial guide to prevent the manipulation of our legal system as an instrument of abuse. It is the Family Violence Prevention Fund and the National Network that has shaken the money for this out of Congress. Yes, the National Coalition came late to the game, but they jumped on the band wagon that has been driven by the other organizations for a VERY long time.
I know there is intense rivalry between various DV organizations. Quite frankly, I don’t think this helps our cause. IMHO, we need to find a way to get on the same page. Internal bickering IMHO merely gives those opposed a reason to limit funding.
Thanks for the heads-up on the organizations you mentioned. I’ll check them out.
Writing helps me with my PTSD episodes. So, write away, LGH! I’m glad for your comments, and I’m psyched by your passion. Yes, we have a very long way to go. I stridently believe that it is the survivors like us who will make it happen.
Sending hugs and thanks,
OMG, DMT Chicago! Did you notice the judicial guide on my blogroll? It was written by fellow DePaul alum Judge Susan Carbon, who now heads the Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women office. . .it is all about manipulation of the legal system as an instrument of abuse.
When I was in law school, I sat in on the trial of Head v. Head which sounds a whole lot like your case. He was an MD at Northwestern. By the time they got done litigating, the attorneys had all their assets ~ $1.7 million. Her attorney IMHO wrote the book on litigation abuse way back in the early 1980s.
Is your mediator David Shields??? If so, he was the head of chancery before he got sent to prison. He’s also a DePaul alum. I knew him quite well back in the day. I’m not aware that he ever worked in divorce court.
Since I met the judge who has been stalking me since 1992 at a DePaul law alumni dinner, I’m exceedingly reluctant to contact anyone privately. However, I’m psyched about this connection. I would love, love, love to see DePaul take a leadership role in ending litigation abuse. Their professors have done some symposiums on domestic violence.
Jeanne I. King, Ph.D. wrote a very interesting book: ALL BUT MY SOUL about the litigation abuse she experienced in Cook County courts. Her ex is an OB/GYN. I forget where he practices.
LOL ~ I hear you. I will also admit to hoping one day I’ll hear on the news that my own ex has departed this earth. Fortunately, he’s retired from the supreme court ~ but ~ he still sits on the bench from time to time as a substitute judge. I lost count a long time ago of the number of women from his state who have asked me how to confront the judicial corruption in his state.
I’ve been asking myself the same question for 18 years now and haven’t come up with a viable answer.
Thanks for visiting my little site and leaving a comment. I wish you well. . .it helps a whole lot that you graduated from DePaul. . .the judges don’t like to admit bias toward fellow alums. . .it’s there. . .so. . .I’m hoping your ex went to law school elsewhere!
Judges should be held accountable. Perjury should be prosecuted. The justice system should not be for sale to the highest bidder or to the person most willing and able to utilize it as a tool. Nancy Pollard of Orange County California is a judge who is either appallingly stupid, inept, corrupt, or all of the above and worse. The power of a judge is so frighteningly extensive, and when a judge refuses to listen to evidence or to even read documents and when a judge panders to lawyers, and is biased and doesn’t care if fraud or deceit occurs in her courtroom, that judge should be held accountable. And, frankly, I think punishment by life in prison is an acceptable sentence, but it isn’t harsh enough. Read about how these judges and lawyers operate. Nancy Pollard is just one of many but is a great example and she is one I am unfortunately very personally familiar with. Her horrible attitude, the fact she doesn’t care at all if she is being lied to, if evidence is being fabricated, if people are lying against document and against their own prior testimony in an attempt to deceive the court, if all hell is breaking loose. She doesn’t care. She chooses her side for reasons beyond me, and will not listen to facts. She is in a position of power, she is abusing her power, and she is either by design or without knowing it, allowing herself to be a tool for further abuse. The things I saw happen in court in the two years I was there for a divorce have forever changed me and my view of the “justice” system. I am now writing about it in my second manuscript. I will never stop in my efforts to expose what goes on under the dirty and foul folds of the robes of justice. And I got extremely lucky. I was so poorly represented, or not represented at all, and I was very ill with cancer at the time, so there was an attitude by my ex husband, Jim Coppini, and his attorney, Barry Wishart, that they could lie or make up evidence and that there would never be anyone to hold them accoutable. They were wrong. It all ended up in court transcripts and until the day I die, I will be on a mission to inform people who have never been there, what goes on. Doc for doc, lie for lie, made up evidence and all, I will keep on bringing it out for people to see in an effort to someday be a part of the change that absolutely must occur.
Thank you a thousand times over for this blog … this site … this information. Ironically, I, too, am a lawyer ! Not practicing, went into HR many years ago instead. I didn’t marry my daughter’s father. I was 37 when I met him and after about 8 months I realized he wasn’t right in the head, shortly after, I found out, he was with other women the entire time he was with me AND THEN I found I was pregnant. His first wife left him for emotional abuse. I left him for the same when I was 8 months pregnant and I thought I would be safe. Even after I found out about all the lying and cheating, I did give a try after I found out I was pregnant, but the pregnancy was unadulterated hell. The verbal abuse, the fighting, the unnecessary drama, the smear campaigns and so on. His brothers were all the same – his mother the ring leader and founder of the he man women haters club. During my pregnancy, I saw one of the sister in laws dying of cancer and they all continued with their cruelty. I remember thinking I don’t want to live like this and I certainly don’t want to die like that and that was the very last day I spent as a partner with my daughter’s father.
After my daughter was born, he wouldn’t not sign the birth certificate and wouldn’t acknowledge her as his daughter for 11 months. When he finally did, the Court drama began. We’ve been in Court of going into our 5 year. The lies, twists and distortions left me at the time with PTSD. I never knew anything like this before. Then every time one case would close, I’d get served with another complaint weeks after. Contempts, modifications, motions for legal fees and so on. He continues to lose, but with life like this I feel like a loser even I win.
The stakes for the current litigation are now higher. I am sole custodian of our child thank god, but due to all the litigation, I have lost jobs at a relatively rapid rate. An old boss of mine who knew me before the nightmare began found me on linked-in and helped me to get the most amazing job. The job is in NYC. I live in Boston. My daughter’s father lives in DC. And due to laws that protect real fathers who are local and engage with their children more than 1x a month as her father does, he has the right to block my move and have a full trial. I have no job at the moment, health care insurance is running out and I just received a notice to quite my apartment. I’ve been searching for employment for months, but the economy is not-so-good these days, particularly at my level. There are 100s of us applying for the same job that are all highly qualified.
We have a plan right now to get me out, but it will not be without a fight. The part that has me most frustrated is that MA will maintain jurisdiction for 6 months once the move is permanent and the move will not be permanent until he gets his full trial which could take months. I need and want to be successful at my new job. I am trying like heck to find ALL of my inner strength now to not be a victim and to be strong, it isn’t my strength that I am concerned with, but more my new employer’s tolerance. it is appalling that a man the doesn’t live in the same state can assert control and power to keep us here even when we are moving closer to him.
I’ve struggled every day with why won’t the Court stop this, help me, where is the justice and it has finally clicked for me that there really is very little justice. I have to figure out how to manage though. I will read your blog more thoroughly and some of the resources. I do not want to be a victim anymore and that is what I am trying to learn today and who I am trying to be.
I will close with how I began … a thousand thank yous. I really needed to know I am not alone. Oh yeah, I read up there one of the cases where the ex was an Ob/Gyn … my daughter’s father si the same.
Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate yoour efforts and I will be waiting for your further post thaqnk you once again.
Anne is an angel…. I am re-reading this post as I begin trying to regain custody from my ex who is not caring for my sons. Sports seems to be the focus!
Anne, I just wrote a 3,589 word paragraph, and decided to copy and paste it to a word document. I think it was the first time that I have put my story into words. To make a very long story short, I need to get ahold of DMT Chicago if at all possible. If there is any way that you could ask her if I could connect with her… or if you could give my info to her.
I attempted to divorce a lawyer of 7 yrs starting back in 2003. I had no college education and was a mom of a 2,2 and 4 yr old. He told me if I divorced him he would keep me in court for 3-4 years, financially devastating me so that I lived in a cardboard box. We had $90K in assets. I begged to give him $45K, and assume the loan on the barn that we had just built and were living in as I still am. (I am a horse trainer/riding instructor). That last year we were married I netted $18,000 while raising 3 children.
2 3/4 yrs later and he allowed me to settle if I gave him $190,000 PLUS assumed the loan PLUS payed my attorney fees and got no maintenance. I was thrilled to be done with him, when his own family’s best friends offered to loan me $495,000 to buy him out and be done.
For the next 13 years, even though his income increased from $60,000 to his own business grossing over $366,000 (what he claimed), in Will County, with the same judge, I never received a raise in child support. I raised 3 of his children on $1272. No maintenance and a $2,700 mortgage a month to pay the crazy high loan off before I turned 80. (theres more to that story, that family also gifted me some principle back to make it happen, but I still had a super high mortgage).
In 2010 when he grossed $224,000 I asked for a raise and after 2 yrs and a $23,000 legal bill the judge allowed all of his $160,000 business expenses and I got a $72/mo raise.
That was my lesson. To never ask for a raise again, he got what he wanted.
2017, my oldest graduated, he went after me to completely remove child support (he had turned my son against us in 2015) because he had my son and I my youngest daughter still.
Final arguments were heard in May 2018. October 2018, the judge said that she ‘decided’ that we both make $130,000 (even though my tax returns show a $2,000 3 yr business average, I had to go on food stamps to make ends meet with the children, and the judge knows this!), and that we are both responsible for 3 children, $15K/yr for 4 yrs of college contribution and I have to pay him an additional $15,000 for expenses because upon seeing my tax returns he then turned my youngest daughter against me and now had both twins for the last year.
So. Walk away? Yes I would love to, but can’t with a $195,000 judgement over my head. I had to borrow money ($13,000 so far) from an X boyfriend to file a Motion to Reconsider. If I have a $195,000 judgement against myself AGAIN, I may as well lay down and die. My trade does not even make enough money to have any kind of retirement. I’m considered a farmer. It’s the only thing I ever knew how to do and did while being at home raising my children.
There is so much more, it’s nauseating, having an X who’s a bully who knows how to use the courts to bully and is a psychopath. And the courts are allowing it to happen. Every bit of it.
I was spending my day researching for yet ANOTHER kind of lawyer that I have to get (that’s the more to the story, as if there needed to be more drama), and came across you and your website. For all of these years I have thought that there needs to be reformation in the Family Court system and I needed to do something about it, but have never had the time past just being able to survive and raise my children. I have known that it can’t just be happening to me, and now I see you all!
Anyways, THANK YOU for showing me that you all are out there, and please please please, Anne, I hope that I can still reach you and I hope that there is some way that I might even connect with DMT Chicago to see if she knows of any of the specialized legal help that I cannot currently find here in Chicago might be available so that I can end this, move on and begin my new chapter in helping others so that no person ever has to go through what many of us have. With gratitude…
I have no idea what you mean by “DMT Chicago.” Since I am retired from the practice of law, I am not allowed to give you legal advice. Because I haven’t practiced in Chicago for decades, I don’t know anyone to recommend to you.
Your ex-husband is quite expertly manipulating the legal system as an instrument of abuse, and he will continue to do so until the day he dies. My suggestion is that you read I, Tina and Tina Turner My Love Story. Her books guided me out of a similar quandary. I think she would advise you to declare bankruptcy, say “fuck it” and mean it, and move on with your life. It isn’t easy, but it is the ONLY way to take control of your destiny away from your ex-husband.
Wishing you all the very best. . .
DMT Chicago posted on this thread in 2010. I didn’t realize you were also in Chicago. Thank you for your advice. Do you know if Bankruptcy will throw out Family Court order for a parent to pay college contribution? I thought I read that it would not. The representation that I was looking for (I’m just going to say it) is a Family Law Legal Malpractice attorney. Very very very hard to find, I’ve been searching for over a month and decided to quit cold calling MP firms and try to research some knowledgeable people in the field and looking for information on abuse in the Family Courts and found your page and this thread. The ‘other’ part of the story, my ‘cheap’ attorney also messed up and and didnt submit my expense documents to the court. And even though he told me he would and could, in the end never was able to get them in after the hearing. I spoke with our very first judge who is no longer practicing and he told me that I would have to do a Motion to Reconsider and then take to the Ill. appellate court and they would flip the judgement based on our tax returns. As you know I’ve already borrowed $13K and not yet through the MTR. And he also told me to get the judgement and tell his firm to turn it into their Malpractice insurance, and it sounded so easy, but they are still unwilling to admit fault and I’m afraid that if I do that w/o a lawyer that something bad will happen, they will find some loophole because I’m not a lawyer. For me, because he made that mistake, that’s my only hope is that the MP suit will pay for everything my X has demanded of me. The judge STILL had our tax returns. She knows I”m on the link card and had a 3 yr avg of $2K and I’ve always just been happy to ‘just make it’ because I was raising my children. My first daughter got accepted to Stanford. The second two have drank the koolaide and think that they have a terrible mom. I’ve accepted that for now and can only pray that they see my love as adults.
So, the questions, do you know if bankruptcy ct could excuse a Family Court ruling. And do you know of any family law legal MP attnys in the Chicago area (I’ve been told I need Dupage Cty since he practiced in Dupage and I do NOT want it in Will County).
And I’ve ordered Tinas books. If it would solve the legal battles I would do it and walk away. I will also be calling some Bankruptcy lawyers today to try to get appts.
Thank you again.
I left Chicago in 1992. As I stated previously, I am retired from the practice of law and cannot give you the legal advice you are seeking.
I’m glad you have ordered Tina’s books. She walked away.
Just wanted to let you know that upon talking with a bankruptcy lawyer, that is not an option for any family court ruling. Because the judge said that I make $130,000/yr, I DO. And because of that I will owe the $213,000 judgement at 9% interest until the day I die. My X already put a lien on my home/business and is planning to request of the courts to force me to sell. I don’t even have equity. He wants me homeless and my judgement will still follow me until the day I die unless I come up with the $ to pay him.
I understand ‘walking away’ and I”d be happy to do that, but in this case I cant because the courts wont let me. Does anyone else have any ideas? I borrowed $13,000 from an x boyfriend to file a Motion to Reconsider which she immediately denied. I had no more money to take it to the Illinois Supreme Court, and now my 30 days is up.