In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 7, 2014 / 9 Tammuz, 5774

Our Family Court Fiasco

By Diane Dimond

JewishWorldReview.com | We, in America, like to say that what happens behind closed doors is nobody else's business. But what if what happens between consenting adults results in the rest of us having to pay out billions of dollars when things go wrong?

It is happening year after year. Taxpayers are footing the bill for countless ugly divorces, separations and couples who have babies out of wedlock. Experts who keep track of this call it "family fragmentation" and estimate that we, collectively, pay more than $112 billion annually in an oftentimes vain effort to fix the problems of troubled couples.

The Institute for American Values, a conservative group with a mission to "study and strengthen civil society," added up the public's cost of supporting divorcing and unmarried households. Using figures from 2008, they looked at the justice system's cost of dissolving a typical marriage, the average amount of a custodial parent's reliance on government programs like food stamps, Medicaid, Head Start, housing assistance and cash payments. Over the course of the previous decade, the institute concluded, taxpayers shelled out more than $1 trillion.

The institute found the biggest annual bite was the $19.3 billion that went to operate our justice system. What is happening in family court to rack up this kind of a bill? Well, first, understand that since the mid-'70s about half of all marriages fail. At any given moment, there are millions of Americans in the court system fighting their partner for divorce, custody or a change in a previous order.

Family courts are overwhelmed. Judges often have no particular expertise in dealing with domestic issues and often let the warring factions repeatedly go at each other in court. Hearings are held months apart, and many judges hope the frustrated couple ultimately gets together long enough to reach their own settlement. In the meantime, the clock and the meter keep ticking. Often, the only winners are the lawyers who can rack up enormous fees.

Various states have appointed task forces to look at ways to streamline the process, but still words like "national crisis" and "flawed and frustrating" are used to describe family court's enormous backlog.

California's Elkins Task Force studied the problem for two years and, in April 2010, announced 117 recommendations to streamline court inefficiencies. What's changed since then? Not much for the women and men who seek judicial help.

Adam Bram of Los Angeles says his contentious divorce case is typical. After living together as a couple for just 11 months, his wife filed for divorce in March 2010. Now, more than three-and-a-half years later, their case is still stuck in court. A proposed settlement blew up last December, and Bram has not been able to see his almost 4-year-old daughter since then.

From the outset, the wife claimed Adam was a drug addict who could not be trusted alone with their child. Adam, who had gone through a stint in rehab back in 2004, was eager to prove his wife wrong. For more than two years, he submitted to court-ordered random drug tests, which found nothing in his system but doctor-prescribed drugs for his prolonged back pain, muscle tension and his attention deficit disorder.

Superior Court Judge Mark Juhas — who happened to have served on the Elkins Task Force — never ordered Sarah to return any of the $200,000 she admitted taking from Adam. By the spring of 2011, court documents show, the money was gone. She was not punished for defying the court's order not to spend the money.

Juhas never declared that Adam was, indeed, fit to parent the child alone even after he passed drug tests and agreed to go to co-parenting classes, and a psychiatric evaluator concluded that he did not need to have his visitations monitored. (Repeated calls to the wife's divorce lawyer, Mark Vincent Kaplan, were not returned.)

Adam, who happens to be an entertainment lawyer, could not grasp the willy-nilly way family court worked. He admits he became frustrated with the indecisiveness of the system. He likely made the judge unhappy and worked against his own best interests when he filed motion after motion. Nonetheless, Bram paid the $4,400 monthly bill for a monitor just so he could see his daughter. Finally, he could no longer afford to pay for the monitor, the drug testing, the co-parenting classes and his legal bills.

"We were in court longer than the marriage was," said Adam's lawyer C. Brian Martin. "And it all comes down to the huge backlog of cases that goes on. The judge gives you 20 minutes today, and then the next hearing is 45 or 60 days away." Martin, a family court veteran of 30 years, says the system is so broken he can't even suggest fixes or foresee a change.

In the meantime, we taxpayers continue to pay for this albatross of a system.

As for Bram? The couple is now officially divorced, but the court still has Adam's claim for joint custody on the calendar. "My next hearing is now set for October," Bram told me with a choke in his voice. "Which means I'm going to miss my daughter's fourth birthday."

"Lawyers often have no concept of the psychological effect of all this on the children," attorney Martin added. "And judges often don't care."

And that comes back to why we should all care about why the family court system is failing in America — the children. Warring adults and their lawyers scream louder and longer than the countless kids who need to be nurtured by both parents. Whatever happened to deciding things "in the best interest of the child"?

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Investigative journalist and syndicated columnist Diane Dimond has covered all manner of celebrity and pop culture stories.

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© 2014, Creators Syndicate.