Friday, April 2, 2010

What Divorce Law is Doing to Marriage Part 21

This is the beginning of Chapter five “Your Custody Hearing”

More from the words of Jed Abraham

Your trial will be bifurcated. After determining that there are grounds for divorce-that your marriage has irretrievably broken down-the court will first hear the custody issue. Then it will proceed to the remaining matters: property, alimony, and child support.

The three days of custody testimony will pass in a blur. Your wife’s lawyer will a array of witnesses: the children’s pediatrician, their teachers, and their friends’ mothers. They will all testify that your wife is a wonderful parent: she takes the children for medical checkups, she goes to parent-teacher meetings, she discusses childrearing matters with the other mothers. They hardly know you.

On cross-examination, your lawyer will show that these witnesses had little opportunity to see your wife actually interact with the children. They don’t know how your wife treats them at home. They hardly know you because, when you are home with your children, they are at home with theirs.

The pediatrician will acknowledge that you also took the children to see him; your wife usually took them when they were sick. But your wife has recently taken them for a range of minor complaints-colds, headaches, weight loss-which are probably linked to stress generated by divorce. The teachers will recall that you attended several extra-curricular school functions, such as sporting events and stage plays; the separation, that the children do not complete their homework assignments anymore. The mothers will grant your wife has admitted to them on several occasions that you are a good father; if only you weren’t a lousy husband.

Your wife’s lawyer will call Dr. Karl to the stand. Dr. Karl will relate that your wife contacted her out of concern that you sexually abused children. She will state that her examination indicated you fondled the children and exposed yourself to them when you gave them baths.

Your lawyer will object to the introduction of any evidence based on anatomically correct dolls and penile plethysmography. The judge will overrule the objection. He will agree that a jury would be barred from considering this kind of seductive and potentially prejudicial evidence. But this is a divorce; there is no jury. The judge functions as both judge and jury, and it can safely be presumed that his learned and level head will not be as easily swayed as would the heads of 12 mere mortals.

Dr. Karl will testify that young children are usually too embarrassed and traumatized to verbalize about the sexual abuse they have suffered, especially when they are abused by a close relative. Instead, they will signal they’ve been abused by projecting the event onto an anatomically correct doll. Your children identified the penis on one of Dr. Karl’s dolls as part of what they saw when you gave them baths before they went to sleep. They told her that you played with their privates, too.

Dr. Karl will also testify that you showed an elevated plethysmograph measurement. Therefore, she could not exclude the possibility that you have a deviant sexual attraction to children, even your own. Whatever it was the children did see and experience, it would be unwholesome for them to continue to be exposed to it-to you-in the future.