Florida Families is an emerging 501(c)(3) public charity; we are not part of any government agency or the legal profession. While we welcome and actively collaborate with constituents across government, business, and other nonprofits, we are free from the ingrained expectations of divorce industry stakeholders.
Naïve parents first step foot in family court, trusting that the court will protect their rights and their children's rights, believing this is how the courts work, which is not true. Little do they know that family courts routinely violate due process and equal protection rights to pit parents against each other for money in the name of children.
A favored parent is selected. Judges ignore evidence but welcome dramatic stories. Evidentiary hearings are rare, and there are no jury trials. Family court orders are, therefore, often based on emotion and prejudice, not facts.
While justice should be for everyone, violation, and injustice are the norm in family court. Most litigants cannot afford an attorney for the months or years required and must represent themselves.
Family courts view any change in a noncustodial parent’s financial circumstances after divorce with intense suspicion. For example, Florida family courts will reduce child support orders only if the noncustodial parent can prove the impossible - that their change in circumstances was not only unpredictable and unpreventable, but permanent. Imagine if the Internal Revenue Service levied a fixed tax obligation based upon your income in your best year and declared that to be your taxable income every year!
Congress created federal programs under Title IV of the Social Security Act of 1935 decades ago without public awareness or consent. Federal grants to states under these programs - welfare, foster care, and child support - amount to $29 billion annually (FY 2016). For Florida, the federal Title IV annual funding totals $1.3 billion. These federal grants are a small fraction of a state budget but a powerful bureaucratic incentive to comply with every outdated program requirement to remain eligible for funding.
Title IV federal funding is dwarfed compared to all the other money that flows to lawyers, custody evaluators, consultants, guardian ad litems (GALs), and other divorce industry insiders. Family courts serve to maximize federal funding and to funnel legal and expert fees from families. Unequal custody, crushing child support debt, and false allegation restraining orders create an endless "conflict for cash" feedback loop.
A culture of greed and selfishness permeates all levels of the family court system. For example, when one of our parents informed their guardian ad litem that they were drafting a settlement, the guardian ad litem cried, "where does that leave me?"
Moreover, the legal profession and judiciary are self-policing, without transparency, and accountable to no one. Unethical family court judges are immune from liability resulting from their judicial actions. They have the power to destroy families and family members, yet lawyers and judges are not tested for illegal substances or periodically examined for mental and personality disorders. Nothing prevents family court judges from abusing their entrusted power for their convenience and private gain.
Even one rotation in family court can weigh heavily on the conscience of some judges. Ronald Ficarrotta, a Chief Judge of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida, described his brief time as a family court judge to a group of students as "Horrible." (Colleen Jenkins, "Don't Even Try It in His Court," St. Petersburg Times, March 24, 2007.)
Centralized federal programs and state family courts that operate in an adversarial legal system are not going away anytime soon. These bureaucracies work on their own momentum, expand outdated programs far beyond their intended scope without oversight, and gradually remove the unalienable rights we should have as parents in a free society.
Florida Families offers a more civilized alternative for making decisions and resolving personal disputes without destroying families. We bring expertise and support, and you determine what is most important to your family's happiness and well-being.
With Florida Families, you are in a safe place that is free from dramatic, overly emotional, and unpredictable behavior, and where your individual constitutional and human rights are respected. Time and money are not wasted on opposition research or on trying to gain an advantage over the other parent through hostile family law litigation. For families in marital crisis, we are a solution-oriented escape route organized primarily outside the context of the adversarial family court system and guided by a vision of cooperation and peace.