Wednesday, September 07, 2005


I'm glad someone smart is writing about child-custody issues. Maybe it can save someone else's family.

By the time she was 10, Gillian Haemer knew what she wanted to do when she grew up. Every 10-year-old should. They should want to be a baseball player, or a rabbi, or an astronaut, or the President of the United States.

Gilly knew.

"I'm going to grow up, get married, have kids, get a divorce, then take all my kids and all his money and move into a little house and get a maid."

At least in Boulder County, that's a realistic goal. Her little sister Zoe's wasn't.

"When I grow up, I'm going to have the doctors take everything out of me that comes from Daddy."

These weren't angry teens. These were 8- and 10-year-old little girls.

I escaped blaming my ex-wife for it. I saw, from ground zero, that the problem lay squarely in the "let's you and him fight" laps of divorce professionals.

"Remember to leave your check with the receptionist on the way out."

The solution lies in the same place. It's much too late for my three little girls and for me (and for my ex-wife, really). It's not too late to reform child-custody law and the divorce courts.

More and more states, especially west of the Mississippi, are moving from custody law based on "best interest of the lawyers, uh, child" -- duelling, adversarial, professionals fight in court over who the children get to have for a parent -- to "presumption of joint custody" -- you were both parents before the divorce, and unless there's something wrong with one of you, you both stay parents afterwards.

It can't be done by civilians like me. It needs big guns, working from inside the legal field.

Eugene Volokh offers a ray of hope.


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