by Steve Timmer
Jun 3, 2015, 9:30 AM

The trouble with family courts

Have you ever had someone come and ask your opinion about something, or to help him or her solve a problem, and then when you do, he or she turns on you and claims you’re wrong, and it’s all your fault? Mediating a tiff between your kids is a particularly good way to wind up in this situation; sometimes they both turn on you.

I’m quite interested in the subject of attorney Michelle MacDonald’s representation of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, and MacDonald’s advocacy — stunning to me — of the abolishing of the family courts. I’ve written about these subjects a few times, and you can find some of the stories in the sidebar on the right side of this page. Or, just put “MacDonald” in the search box at the top of the page.

Apparently, a lot of divorcing people can agree on one thing: it’s the family courts’ fault. I went looking for a graphic for this story, and the antipathy toward family courts revealed by just a Google image search was amazing. I guess that the family courts are just organized to steal money from people and impoverish them.

You know, it always starts this way. You get a call during the dinner hour from a family court judge describing a promotion he’s offering; it sounds great, and the next thing you know, you’re homeless.

That’s what some people would have you believe, anyway.

But just like the tango, a divorce takes two, and the family court isn’t one of them; a divorce is started by one of the spouses. (Sandra Grazzini-Rucki in the instant case.) It is also a brutal fact of arithmetic that income won’t go as far spread over a couple of households as it does in one.

How do divorcing spouses divide their property and divvy up the parenting responsibilities and the cost of raising the children? It may surprise you to know that they can do most of it on their own, by agreement, if they are able, with minimal supervision from the court. Really.

It is a titanic case of displaced anger, though, to blame the family court when the divorcing spouses — usually parents, too — can’t agree.

There are few things on earth nastier than a pitched custody dispute. The courts typically rely on mediators and appointed experts and guardians ad litem for fact finding and advice on resolving unpleasant custody disputes. This is where it gets expensive, either in an original divorce proceeding, or in a subsequent dispute that arises.

Returning to the Grazzini-Rucki matter, it wasn’t the family court judge who made the custody determination a two-year marathon. You can probably figure out who did.

Speaking of these parties, Michael Brodkorb had an update of the case in recent days about Grazzini-Rucki’s failure to pay child support for her children, and Dakota County’s efforts to enforce payment.

This is just another example of those pesky Nosy Parker gubmint types telling parents what they can and cannot do. The state does not own our children, huff people like Carver County Corruption and Red Herring Alert.

But without a court to decide when the parties don’t agree, even after some mediation help, what do we do? Turn it over to ecclesiastical authorities? Or to Michelle MacDonald or Susan Carpenter, which is probably the same thing?

Maybe we resort to the traditional remedies: tribal warfare, or that old classic, kidnapping.

Kidding. Sort of.

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