The Hidden Agenda Behind the Making of “Divorce Corp.”

On January 9, 2014, My Advocate Center will be hosting the world premier of a documentary film titled “Divorce Corp.” The following day, the film will be released in theaters around the country. AMC’s synopsis of the film is as follows: “A shocking exposA of the inner workings of the $50 billion a year U.S. family law industry, Divorce Corp shines a bright light on the appalling waste and shameless, collusive practices seen daily in family courts. It is a stunning documentary film that anyone considering marriage or divorce must see.”

Since I have been such an outspoken critic of the way in which family law matters are handled in this country, one might expect that I would endorse this film. In fact, on February 19, 2013, I received the following email from Joe Sorge, the film’s executive producer and director: “We are near completion of a film on the family law system in the US. The film very much supports Mark Baer’s position that the current system creates stress for families, often with terrible consequences. We have interviewed Sorrel Trope, Dennis Wasser, Gloria Allred and others. Would Mark be interested in giving an interview? Thank you, Joe Sorge.”

In response, I told Mr. Sorge that “I would be honored to be interviewed for such an important film.” We initially scheduled my interview for March 7, 2013. On February 27, 2013, Mr. Sorge and I spoke over the phone regarding “topics that we might cover.” After our telephone conversation, Joe informed me that they were going to “wait on scheduling an interview for now.” I wished Mr. Sorge luck with his documentary and said, “I hope that your film accomplishes your desired results, regardless of my participation.

Mr. Sorge’s response was as follows: “We already have most of the footage we want covering mediation and collaborative divorce. I like your ideas about preserving the family relationships by mediating / collaborating before the parties begin to make accusations. As you say, it almost requires dementia to forget the hateful statements spouses fling at each other in court. That’s all very good, as is your discussion of judicial bias. I suppose we are looking for an insider who is advocating an almost complete dismantling of the family courts; someone who wants the U.S to change to the Scandinavian model. We have yet to find a U.S lawyer that radical. While I do believe that the change you are advocating would be for the best, I think the Scandinavian model is even better. Perhaps U.S. Society is not ready for it yet, but gender roles are changing quickly. Women represent more than half of the U.S. Workforce, and wages are approaching parity. The U.S. System is based on a patriarchal model that was relevant 30 years ago, but within the next 10 years will be completely out of date. Let’s stay in touch. We hope to do some TV specials on the topic of divorce and perhaps one of those would work out.”

I responded as follows: “Democracy does not work in all countries — the type of government suitable depends upon many factors. The US is not and never has been Scandinavia. Unfortunately, we are and have been a male dominated society. We cannot do what was done in Scandinavia because we are not Scandinavia. The consequences would not be the same. Australia was also a British colony. We have many similarities. What works there has a good chance of working here. I want your film to make as big an impact as possible and influence much needed change. However, if you advocate for something that cannot work here because of our history and its influence on our present and future, you significantly weaken your case. I say that for the benefit of your cause. Significant change is change — even if not the change you would like to see. Australia has a family systems based approach — it is wonderful and could work here. In any event, let’s keep in touch.”

Our discussion ended with the following email I received from Mr. Sorge: “Good points. Perhaps we need to make progress in steps.”

Now, let’s discuss how the Scandinavian system works: (1) Equal Parenting; (2) No child support because the income differential between the parents is irrelevant and they have Equal Parenting; (3) No spousal support; (4) No attorneys fees; and (5) Marital property be divided equally. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorce_law_in_Sweden) Forced Equal Parenting completely ignores the children — it is all about parental rights. Furthermore, all things being equal, would children prefer to be with the parent who earns $250,000 per year or the one who earns $18,000 per year and there were no child or spousal support? Also, how will things play out with regard to property division, when one spouse can’t afford to pursue their share? Moreover, as Nancy Zalusky Berg pointed out in a Discussion on LinkedIn, “Let’s not also forget that in Sweden there is many government supports for families and children that do not exist in the US. Health care, parental leave and minimum income standards. The US is the only member of the UN that has not endorsed the children’s bill of rights. Children do not have rights in the US — only parents.”

I didn’t hear from anyone involved with the film again until October 22, 2013, when I received the following message through Twitter: “My name is Meagan & I work for the director of Divorce Corp. We seem to share similar views on family law. Could we talk/email? Thanks!”

Meagan and I spoke that same day. She asked me if I would be willing to endorse the film and the companion book and I told her that I would obviously need to see the film before I could agree to endorse it.

On October 24, 2013, Meagan sent me the following email: “Thanks for taking some time out to talk to me about Divorce Corp earlier this week. As promised, here is the link to a pre-screener of the Divorce Corp movie. Please treat this as confidential and do not share the pre-screener of Divorce Corp with anyone or make copies of it. By watching the movie, you are agreeing to keep the specific contents and storylines in the movie confidential. We welcome you sharing news about the movie and telling everyone you wish about the upcoming theatrical release, we just don’t want the specific details of the movie coming out before the release. I am eager to hear your thoughts and feedback after you watch the movie! If you are still interested in reading the companion book too, I will see if I can send you a review copy soon. We would love it if you would be willing to write an endorsement for the book jacket.”

I watched the film on my computer and was able to replay all or parts of it as often as I liked, which allowed me to take very detailed notes. After watching the film, I sent Meagan an email with 58 reasons why I would not endorse the movie. I cannot share that specific information until after the release of the film because that was a condition for my being shown the pre-screener of “Divorce Corp.” Without breaching my agreement, I can share the following portions of the email I sent to Meagan: “Thank you for sending me the link to watch Divorce Corp. While I am one of the most outspoken advocates against resolving family law matters in court, I find this video incredibly misleading. Let me give you my reasoning:…” I ended the email as follows: “I agree that we need major reform. However, I believe that you are spreading false and misleading information and will not endorse this film — quite the contrary.”

The next day, Meagan responded as follows: “Thank you for taking the time to watch Divorce Corp. I appreciate your candor about the movie. While it sounds like there are some points of agreement, I understand this doesn’t overcome your differences. It was a pleasure meeting you over the phone and I do appreciate you sharing your reasoning for your differences with the points expressed in the movie.”

Shortly thereafter, I received an email from Mr. Sorge that stated in pertinent part as follows: “Meagan forwarded your email to me. Thank you very much for taking so much time to watch and respond to the film. While we do not agree on all points, we agree on many, and that’s a good start. I would like to respond to your points… See, we agree on so much. We just want to take the reforms farther and accomplish them faster. I fully respect your positions, and know that they come from a good place. I’d be happy to discuss the points on which we disagree further if you like.”

Mr. Sorge and I then spoke over the phone and agreed on many of the points I had raised. He admitted to me that many of the views expressed in the film were the perceptions and opinions of those interviewed in the film and they did not necessarily reflect his views or those of the other film makers involved. I therefore ended our discussion by encouraging him to include the following disclaimer in the film: “The views and statements expressed in the film do not necessarily reflect the views of Divorce Film, LLC.

I firmly believe that those responsible for “Divorce Corp.” were extremely irresponsible because the false and misleading information contained in that film may have extremely dangerous consequences. When you understand the intent, you understand why they made the film unnecessarily false and misleading. Nevertheless, I do hope that the release of the film will provoke dialogue that leads to much needed change. Upon the release of the film, I am ready, willing and able to participate in any such discussions and share my 58 comments, among other things.

45 comments

  1. Thanks for this “report”, Mark. Having seen a couple of snippets, as a practitioner whose heart, soul and brain reside firmly in mediation and collaborative practice, I was eager to jump on this bandwagon without having seen the whole film. One of my colleagues gave me a gentle, “Not so fast.” Like you, I am optimistic that this documentary helps foster change and reaches many who might not have otherwise questioned the current system.

  2. Deb Beacham says:

    Mark, this is great information and you know I respect your experience, knowledge and commitment on these issues. No argument from me, and to the contrary, I’m looking forward to being past the screening and getting into constructive debate around the country.

    There are some professionals here who will gladly join you so we are bringing perspective from both coasts and throughout other areas of the country. I recognize this is what you do well!
    Thank you, Deb Beacham
    My Advocate Center, Inc.

  3. Thank you so much, Deb.

  4. ECS says:

    My research shows that there IS spousal support here it is needed. I don’t know what this director means by “the Scandinavian Model” But I do know that in Sweden and Denmark there is more gender equality, in pay and the workplace the government provides all health care and child care and “maintenance” is expected for children and paid to souses when it is needed. Nothing abut equal parentig is found in the sources I have explored.

    Something is very fishy here.

  5. “Child Rearing Practices in Sweden” http://www.ehow.com/list_6185258_child-rearing-practices-sweden.html

    “Denmark adopts equal parenting” http://dad4justice.blogspot.com/2007/10/denmark-adopts-equal-parenting.html

    Boycott Divorce Corp. — “The hidden agenda is the promotion of Forced Equal Parenting [FEP] (otherwise known as presumptive joint custody). They are promoting FEP as the solution to the corruption.” http://www.boycottdivorcecorp.com/

  6. mad angel says:

    As I have seen the preview as well as looking at the background of fathers rights and mothers rights I’m sure I can imagine what kind of response you had emailed. I can not say I back either movement 100% ( because they both share corrupt statistics that are misleading) but I can agree that the corruption in the family courts is out of control. I hope that the new movie will shed some light on the undesirable practices of the courts but if the movie is riddled with more of the manipulated statistics than I seriously doubt that the movie would be helpful in creating true justice in the justice system.

  7. Mark- I am eager to see your 58 Reasons, once the film has been released. The film is clearly going to stimulate a much needed and long overdue mainstream dialogue about the family court reforms that have been much too slow in arriving for so many unsuspecting families.

    Giving children a voice in the family court process is one such reform that we pushed for and attained in California, but much more is needed moving forward to ensure that the system stops harming the children that it should be protecting.

    Australia has certainly learned some tough lessons in recent years related to family law- particularly around the dangers of mandatory shared parenting, which they abruptly reversed themselves on, as I recall, when the deaths of children started to rise after the policy was adopted.

  8. Garland says:

    As the producer of another documentary, No Way Out But One, which looks at the failure of the family courts to protect battered women and abused children, I am very concerned about Divorce Corp. Based on the clips I have seen and research I have done, it appears to be a documentary that totally ignores domestic violence and child abuse which is a huge problem in custody cases/family court. Thank you for this excellent, clear-headed take on Divorce Corp.

  9. Thank you so much, Garland. I really appreciate your contribution to this discussion.

  10. Mark thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns about DivorceCorp and the ongoing dialogue you had. As a valued expert, it is comforting to be able to receive your perspective as many of my clients and viewers will undoubtedly watch, discuss and raise questions about this film and the court system. Much appreciated.

  11. You are very welcome, Karen.

  12. Hi Mark, thanks for sharing with us your conversations with the makers of Divorce Corp., and your thoughts about the film such as you’re able to disclose at this point. Your reactions are in line with my initial impression upon seeing the trailer for the film. It seemed so hyper-dramatic and over the top and inflammatory. Like you, I strongly favor serious reforms in how we as a culture go about resolving our disputes, including divorce. And, like you, I’m not in favor of disinformation that will only serve to inhibit the forces of positive change. One thing, however, I’m still unclear about from your comments. You said, “When you understand the intent, you understand why they made the film unnecessarily false and misleading.” I gather from your comments that the filmmakers’ intent was to help create radical change in the way we do divorce. If that is in fact their intent, I fail to see how it necessarily follows that they would make false and misleading statements in their film. I haven’t seen the film, so I don’t know what false statements you’re referring to—and I very likely won’t see the film. But it would be helpful to me if you could clarify the link you’re seeing between the filmmakers’ goals and intentions and the statements they make in the film. Thanks again for the post.

  13. Hello Mark,

    Thanks so much for your comments about the film; I too am eager to learn more about the reasons you thought the film was flawed. Will be seeing it tomorrow night with colleagues. Given the glaring abuses within the adversarial divorce system I would not have thought that the producers would need to sensationalize.

    I conduct custody evaluations in Chicago as well as serve as a Child Specialist within the Collaborative Law paradigm. The latter is what I enjoy doing and would prefer to do more of that work, although a well conducted evaluation and thoughtfully written report can ultimately be helpful to the children as well.

    Evaluations have become akin to mini dissertations over the past few years with the expectation that one include references and a bibliography to ensure that they are scientifically grounded. Of course this makes them much more expensive and beyond the means of many families. There has to be a better system for conducting them for the people who just cannot use mediation or Collab law – perhaps an evaluative mediation or a team approach. Here’s how insane this can get: I did an update over the summer to a report submitted in early 2011. (I was the Court’s expert). While I was doing my work another evaluator was doing an update and a third was performing an initial evaluation. Make sense?

    I and many of the evaluators in and around Chicago will be meeting next week with the presiding judge of the Domestic Relations Division in Cook County. Here’s hoping that this can lead to a revamping of that part of the system.

    Please let me know if there’s a running blog pertaining to reform. I’d very much like to be a part of it.

    Thanks again,

    John

  14. Actually I spell my name Sulmeyer, not Sulmeyuer….

  15. Thank you, Steve. I am referring to the fact that they want Forced Equal Parenting, for example. The film is biased in a certain way in order to show why that should occur.

  16. John, the way in which family law matters are typically resolved is seriously flawed and I write about this on an ongoing basis. Some of the issues raised in the film are accurate. However, many things are slanted because of the underlying agenda behind the film.

  17. Pat Brown says:

    Mark – as always your reflection and insight are appreciated. It seems to me that rather than engage in a ‘this is good, this is bad’ argument we ought to use the dissemination of the movie as a real opportunity to discuss the underlying issues.

    I think we can all agree there is a great deal wrong with our current system. It needs to be reformed so that we are not doing the profound damage to our children that we are doing every day under the current system.

    I think both those who see the film as promoting Father’s (or even parent’s) rights and those who see it as dismissing abuse and neglect miss the real point. To me the real point is how do we revise the system to support both parents in their legitimate attempts to raise their children without inappropriate or even damaging intrusion by any governmental authority or any mandatory set of laws or rules. Each case is different and each child is unique. The settlements of their disputes should also be unique to them.

    I look forward to a chance to review the movie itself and to your 58 points. Hopefully that will start a more robust dialogue for change.

  18. Pat, thank you and I completely agree!

  19. I am looking forward to hearing your points about how this film’s depiction of divorce is not accurate or reflective of our current U.S. family law processes.

    I admire your strong advocacy for truly putting children’s needs first and also pointing out that this film does not adequately address the serious consequences of domestic violence which sadly leads to way too many family tragedies.

  20. As an Attorney-Mediator also trained in Collaborative Divorce and a former Minor’s Counsel, I think the common thread expressed here is that the current system is flawed, but that a one-size fits all system does not work either. I hope we can have an open debate following the release of the film and that it does not lead to more burdensome, equally flawed outcomes. Recent reforms in California are good and bad, but many are unsupported by the resources necessary to make them viable. The Court can’t support and implement them, the clients can’t afford them.

  21. Sue Gramacy says:

    Hi Mark
    I am looking forward to hearing your 58 concerns. It’s no wonder things aren’t
    Changing especially when a documentary is so wrong. Nita’s too bad they didn’t
    Speak to you or have some consultants before they made the film.
    Let me know when you can talk further about the film,

    Keep up the good work!
    Sue

  22. Thank you so much, Sue.

  23. Like many of the responses to your article about Divorce Corp. I too look forward to both your list of 58 points and also the visibility which will be given to many of the points your write about and areas which need reform in our divorce system.

    In our Divorce Coach Training Program individuals who have been through divorce and now want to support others through the rough spots they will encounter often share their experiences when we pull out divorce scenarios for coaching practice. Many times the stories focus on a system that favors the malicious or fear driven responses which drag out the divorce proceedings and drain everyone’s energy and bank accounts. Is there another side to these stories? Probably. But that doesn’t lessen the damage inflicted on children and families as each person works the system to no one’s advantage.

    I think the ensuing dialogue will be valuable provided it is civil and respectful and there is commitment to get back to basics and redefine some intangible attributes of a reasonable outcome in divorce.

  24. Anna Tivade says:

    Mark,
    You are right on entirely with your position on this film. When I first viewed the trailer I was overwhelmed with excitement that there was finally going to be a documentary exposing the disastrous outcomes of family court. However, after reading some negative comments about the film from mother’s rights activists I started to do more research. I contacted Divorce Corp to have them confirm their position and they did, indeed. I am not on board with the position on alimony and child support and presumed 50/50 custody. I’m going to see the movie tonight and will write up a full review.

    Mark, thank you for your opinions and your expertise.

    Best Regards,
    Anna Tivade
    NJ

  25. Deb Beacham says:

    Mark, this story in our local legal press has a lot to do with why My Advocate Center hosted this screening and town hall. There is a lot more to report – including the news coverage which has been fantastic.
    http://www.dailyreportonline.com/PubArticleDRO.jsp?id=1202635308078

    Overview: evidence blocked/ignored, including police and forensic expert testimony that should have been allowed on the record and used to free this child from abuse and allow her to get the medical treatment she needs. Several professionals making hundreds of thousands by covering up crimes. Everyone knows it but there is tremendous pressure on us to not expose or do anything about it. (Just one of many cases like this here. In addition to the false allegations cases being leveraged by some of these same professional – either way they are hurting these kids and good parents.)

    We now have a sponsor for our Georgia Family Court reform bill, and that was announced last night. Will send you the details and the video soon.

    Thankful that Joe and Dr Drew and team invested in getting light on these issues.

    Thanks for all you do,
    Deb

  26. Thank you, Pegotty. I am releasing my 58 points in a series of articles. I released the first such article yesterday and it can be found at the following link: http://blogsondivorce.com/uncategorized/a-conversation-between-joe-sorge-and-mark-baer-regarding-divorce-corp-part-1-of-a-series.php

  27. Thank you so much, Anna. I look forward to hearing your reaction to the film.

  28. Thank you for the update and congratulations, Deb.

  29. Jennifer Dotson says:

    I appreciate that this pre-review has been made available to the general public. As a former abuse victim and a mother who has been vocally outspoken due to issues unknown that have hindered the best interest of my child, I look forward to seeing your reasons as well. I myself find it concerning that this film devoted so much time and attention to Alimony Reformers, yet very little to abuse victims/survivors. They made allegations that false abuse allegations are rampant in family court. Yet these same people on their own websites claim that men are targetted by false allegations and women always get custody of children. If we “always” get custody of the children, then what purpose could we possibly have for making allegations of abuse? Why would we continue to make said allegations if we are told when we lose custody of children to the alleged abuser that we could see the child and restore some custody rights if we recant or we stop making the abuse allegations?

    This makes no sense to a logical thinking person. I myself spent 8 1/2 years trying to get protection for myself and my child. She has lost almost 9 years of her childhood. I claimed domestic violence. Amazingly in the last year, he has had three arrests for domestic violence, and not against me.

    And even with my vocal outrage on the Internet and my activism and the activism of others, including several adult children of abuse, none of us were offered an interview? Many of our cases can be vetted. This makes no sense. I myself do not want to spend the money it would take to watch this movie.

    Thank you again for your candor and openness regarding this film and the agenda behind it. In doing my own research on the stars of the movie, with only a very few exceptions, most were in some way tied to the divorce movement through their livelihood, through what they perceive as bad decisions, or as authors or activists/speakers.

  30. Ostara says:

    Having dual citizenship US/’Scandinavia’ and having lived 15 years here, the rest ‘there’, I can firmly say, societies are so fastly different, what works there, can never work here.

    In a socialistic society there is more equality between genders, both in parenting and work/earning. In addition there is healthcare, education etc provided by government, meaning a lot less burden on the parents financially to give children a good future. Scandinavia, and much of Europe, is far more child centered then the US. Recent United Nation reports on Child Wellfare, but the US as 1 of the last of the developed countries. Sad, but true!

    In addition, and I doubt this will be mentioned in the film, a high conflict divorce (or ‘fight divorce’ as direct translation), is considered child abuse and often kids end up in foster care. As divorcing parents, you have a choice, come to an agreement in mediation, or go to court; where there will be sole custody for 1 parent, often the parental rights terminated of the other. And that parent may not be you!

    I look forward to watching the movie, however trying to implement a Scandinavian socialistic model on a country with deeply rooted individualistic ideas and values will be a disaster. If Obamacare is thought to be difficult, this will be disastrous at the cost of the next generation.

  31. Very well said, Ostara. Thank you.

  32. The movie, Divorce Corp, is a highly accurate representation of what happens in the U.S. divorce industry and in the U.S. domestic relations courts. Although most would consider this documentary fairly if not very dramatized, I do not believe it is unrealistically or overly dramatized at all. If anything, based on real-life statistics, it probably under-emphasizes the severity of the problems. Yes, they are that bad!

    From my experience from having worked in these arenas for many years in assorted capacities, I’d say they nailed it. In fact, the only point with which I disagree is the stereotype made that everyone who works in the industry is either corrupt or inept. Yes, there are many – perhaps even a majority – who are corrupt, over their heads, or just greedy, but certainly not all. And, no, there are actually many who work in this industry after having been trampled-on by it.

    But, to the problem and how these many issues can be resolved for the benefit of the children who regularly are beat upon by this all powerful and encompassing bully. For sure the family courts need a major overhaul. Absolutely there needs to be serious legislative change. There will, however, always be corrupt and greedy individuals who take advantage of others, and how might this be reformed?

    The reform hinted in the documentary suggests removing the drivers for conflict, which include minimizing the need for additional litigation (by requiring mediation and other forms of ADR), safeguards against over-zealous legal representation (by false allegations), presumptive shared decision making (legal custody), and presumptive equal shared parenting time (physical custody). All of these are not only reasonable from a collective societal standpoint, but they each could work quite positively toward the goal of reducing conflict between the parents. The most important effect of all of them is the incredible benefit they would have on the children caught in the middle.

    Now, I know that many like to assert one theory or another regarding what’s best for children. And there are many, many postulations of various sort regarding the needs of infants, children, and adolescents, but none have all the answers to all the questions. The one thing that is certain and what has been proven empirically as well as anecdotally throughout the ages and around the globe is that children need both their mom and their dad fit and active in their lives and that there is no substitute for them.

  33. JP says:

    I don’t have the background or education of many of the commenters here. I can only say that this seems aimed to throw up more hurdles towards victims of domestic violence in family court.

    Most parenting arrangements are not decided by a judge. Most are worked out between the parents themselves (and sometimes their attorneys.) If these parents feel 50/50 is best for their family, they can have that arrangement – and many do.

    Contested cases are often contested for a reason. If a parent is suffering from addiction, or mental illness, or is abusive, etc., naturally the “healthy” parent may not want to have a 50/50 split – at least until such issues can be properly addressed, and the child’s safety can be assured. THESE then are the cases these people want to be automatic 50/50. I think most people would realize that’s ridiculous.

    My abuser and I went to marriage counseling before our divorce specifically to deal with his physical abuse of me. He admitted it in marriage counseling, and there was other documentation of his volatile temper from former employers (one being the military), and former neighbors.

    My first lawyer was a big believer in shared parenting. He filed the divorce on incompatible grounds. I thought I should bring up my concerns in my filings and without even listening he tried to suggest I was making them up to get a better position in court. I knew then I had the wrong lawyer, but had just spent all the money I had. I went along with it because he said if this guy is really as dangerous as you say, maybe this is a better way than making him madder, and that I thought was a good point.

    The judge sent us to mediation and when that failed he said we had to settle. I wanted a trial. I just knew that if we could testify and I could put forth the evidence I had that he would do the right thing and help me protect my 3 year old son. He wouldn’t hear of it. The judge said “it’s not like these people have any assets, I’m not wasting my time on this case – if they don’t settle I’ll divorce them and kick the custody issue to juvenile court” It can take years just to get a hearing for juvenile court in our county. I came home and looked at my sweet little guy and I was just so mad and sad and scared all at the same time. If he had been a 401k or a time share or a boat, certainly that judge would have had time to devote to protecting that asset. To me, my son was worth so much more than any boat.

    So that’s how we got shared parenting. This led to years of my ex dragging me back to court for ridiculous things that never went anywhere but were very stressful and expensive. He just liked to feel the power of being able to make me show up and answer to him, I guess. It was horrible. And the best part? I couldn’t even bring up the past violence because if it didn’t get brought up in the divorce trial (that the judge wouldn’t let us have), then apparently everyone has to pretend it never happened. Unreal.

    This led to my son being abused. He’s 15 now and I only found out recently how bad it got from his now grown sisters (his dad’s other children.) I confronted him and he admitted it was true and he was too scared to tell me because his dad’s threats were even scarier than the abuse itself. I tried everything to protect him but it wasn’t enough and I have to live with that, and so does he.

    I really feel that before any court considers 50/50 custody they have to first address the need for an initial safety assessment. If either party raises concerns about substance abuse, mental illness, domestic violence, etc. those issues have to be examined first before any other determinations should be made.

  34. Mark,

    As we just discussed by way of text, I just saw the movie. It was overly dramatic, but made some very good points. Your comments are very well taken though regarding the way divorce and custody issues are dealt with in Scandinavia.

    I want to hear your additional comments now that the movie is out. However, I am going to support the movie, even though I don’t agree with every point made. I am going to support it because we HAVE to change the way we do family law. Yes, the Scandinavian system won’t work here. But, if this starts a discussion and helps get us to a place that is better for the divorcing family, then I’m all for it.

    I think you should get involved in their movement to help promote the Australian system, which I have heard you speak about. The director said they want to have a symposium with panel discussions. Your knowledge on the subject would be an important perspective to bring forward.

  35. Pam, I agree that the film is important because it will likely bring about the substantial changes (hopefully complete overhaul) in the way in which family law is handled. I spent more time analyzing this film that anyone, to my knowledge. I am releasing a series of articles based upon conversations I had with the executive producer/director. So far, I have released the following 3 parts of that series:

    “A Conversation between Joe Sorge and Mark Baer Regarding ‘Divorce Corp.’: Part 1 of a Series”

    http://blogsondivorce.com/uncategorized/a-conversation-between-joe-sorge-and-mark-baer-regarding-divorce-corp-part-1-of-a-series.php

    “A Conversation between Joe Sorge and Mark Baer Regarding ‘Divorce Corp.’: Part 2 of a Series”

    http://blogsondivorce.com/uncategorized/a-conversation-between-joe-sorge-and-mark-baer-regarding-divorce-corp-part-2-of-a-series.php

    “A Conversation between Joe Sorge and Mark Baer Regarding ‘Divorce Corp.’: Part 3 of a Series”

    http://blogsondivorce.com/uncategorized/a-conversation-between-joe-sorge-and-mark-baer-regarding-divorce-corp-part-3-of-a-series.php

    If I were not included in such a symposium and/or panel discussions, it would be a joke.

  36. Tony Pelusi says:

    Max,
    Thanks again for a thoughtful post. I will look forward to seeing the movie and engaging in the discussions to follow. You have piqued my interest!
    be well,

    Tony

  37. Suzy Miller says:

    Thank you so much Mark for your detailed info above! I used to work in TV so I expect a certain amount of exaggeration and ‘shock horror’ – but it does appear that the film makers have an unrealistic expectation for the population of the US to ‘go Swedish’. However – having not seen the documentary yet (and goodness knows when we’ll get it here in the UK) I do feel inclined to agree with the idea that if we can educate and empower the public more effectively to take responsibility for their own divorce process, and increase the level of interdisciplinary practice – where a divorce coach or financial adviser become as natural a first stop for divorce (at an early stage of the process) as a lawyer or mediator – then that would indeed be a revolution of sorts. It would rely for success – I believe – on the availability of mediators and collaborative lawyers who are happy to unbundle their services (eg. just deal with the parenting issues for example) and many are already working that way. I know of collaborative lawyers and mediators in the UK who have left good partnership roles in established firms to set up on their own, because the culture of those firms was getting in the way of them putting their clients first. So Sweden may not be the model to follow – but a revolution may still be what’s needed.

    Suzy Miller
    http://www.AlternativeDivorceDirectory.com
    http://www.AlternativeDivorceGuide.com

  38. Thank you, Suzy. By the way, I think everyone should read my other articles about this film.

    I listed some above. The rest of the articles released to date are as follows:

    “A Conversation between Joe Sorge and Mark Baer Regarding ‘Divorce Corp.’: Part 4 of a Series”

    http://blogsondivorce.com/uncategorized/a-conversation-between-joe-sorge-and-mark-baer-regarding-divorce-corp-part-4-of-a-series.php

    “A Conversation between Joe Sorge and Mark Baer Regarding ‘Divorce Corp.’: Part 5 of a Series

    http://blogsondivorce.com/uncategorized/a-conversation-between-joe-sorge-and-mark-baer-regarding-divorce-corp-part-5-of-a-series.php

  39. With thanks! This is an terrific web-site!

  40. Thanks for sharing your communication with the film’s creators and your feelings about the final version. It’s disappointing to learn a film of this nature is not serving the message you, me and so many of the divorce reform advocates are trying to convey. Instead, it can lead to greater confusion, misunderstanding and rigidity regarding making much needed changes in our family law system.

    Always appreciate your integrity and efforts along these lines. I look forward to hearing your specific objections when they are posted.

  41. Gary T says:

    There are federal parental rights in this nation. And there are state ‘best interests’ of the child rights.

    A presumed, parental right of 50% shared legal and physical custody is legally fair to all the parties.

    Variations from that default should occur when either [1] the two parents have agreed to some other custody arrangement, or [2] that the parent(s) have been shown, at trial, to be unfit to parent their child.

    To preemptively say that such a legal presumption could have detrimental effects on the child, is not to say much of anything.
    If one parent is abusive, then they are not fit to be a custodial parent, and that would be addressed by trial or child protective services.

    I do not understand why anyone would be against this.

  42. Sarah says:

    JP,
    I had the same experience as you. All I can say is I had 2 lawyers and neither felt I could win a trial with my abuser. The courts ignore abusive men’s behavior, the examiners and GAL’s encourage time with the children and abuser. Abusive men know how to work the system and no one questions them. So I am with you that the reform is badly needed in cases of abuse and we should be allowed to bring it up as a problem to be taken seriously. Abusive men should not be treated the same as well meaning fathers and yet they receive more custody on average. Our children pay the price down the line.

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. A Conversation between Joe Sorge and Mark Baer Regarding ‘Divorce Corp.’: Part 1 of a Series |
  2. A Conversation between Joe Sorge and Mark Baer Regarding ‘Divorce Corp.’: Part 6 of a Series |
  3. Divorce Corp and Marriage of Sorge - Northern California Attorney Wallace Francis

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