Nature may abhor a vacuum, but it seems lawyers also abhor arenas of life untouched by their professional advice or air-quote helpfulness, which goes a long way to helping explain the $50 billion a year cottage industry in contentious divorce. A back-stiffening look at this sprawling problemsomewhat unsurprisingly unique to the United States in terms of its costdirector Joe Sorges documentary Divorce Corp. makes a persuasive case for the reform of family law court, and in particular an attempted decoupling of money from issues regarding parental custody and visitation rights.
…Divorce Corp. traces the evolution of the divorce-as-business boom back to then-California governor Ronald Reagans introduction of a no-fault dissolution law in 1969, a concept which quickly spread to the overwhelming majority of other states. Divorces became easier to secure and less of a social stigma, but also more complicated in terms of how to divide assets. Following the money, then, big law firmsalmost none of whom were interested in divorce in the 1950s through the 70sinsinuated their way into the process.
…Mostly, though, Divorce Corp. connects because has a deep bench of compelling and sympathetic interviewees from a wide variety of backgrounds. (The best character may be private investigator John Nazarian, an ex-cop who expresses disgust at the system while admitting to feeding his family off of the enterprise.) It also highlights in infuriating fashion the problems inherent in a system wherein attorneys in family court cannot be sued for libel, malicious prosecution or over-litigation, and jury-and-executioner judges who, dependent on campaign contributions for reelection, are not subject to conflict-of-interest oversight or review.
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Brent Simon www.pastemagazine.com
January 13, 2014
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