Editor’s note: Resource Perspectives features articles written by members of Lovefraud’s Professional Resources Guide.
Rebecca Potter works as a licensed mental health counselor in West Palm Beach, Florida. She can be reached at: [email protected]
Advice, learned the hard way, for coping with Florida Family Courts
By Rebecca Potter
Marriage to a psychopath is similar to being in a war without any weapons. I tried to plan my escape from this man, and he was more experienced at turning my life into a complete physical and economical struggle. He has done this before, and he used to say to me, “Women are never the same after a relationship with me.” I left anyway and petitioned the Florida Family Court for relief from my six-year nightmare marriage to a psychopath. I knew that if I didn’t leave at that point, I would no longer be alive.
I did not understand that I could be murdered by the Florida Family Court System. I suffered more from the Florida Family Court than I did in my six-year nightmare marriage. I didn’t understand the same sickness, greed and corruption would be allowed in our Court system. My former husband turned on the charm and hooked the Judge, the attorneys, accountants and paralegals. He used slander and misrepresentation. These untrained court officials followed his every word. He was an airline pilot and I was only a psychotherapist. My former husband was allowed to buy this system and I was left victimized, broke, homeless, sick and with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Casey Anthony trial
I write this inspired by the outrage of the public by the Casey Anthony trial. I find it interesting that the public does not want to hear the pain that countless women have suffered by the Florida Family Court System. I am told so often, “Just get over it.” I consider myself lucky because I do not have a child with this man. He cannot inflict more pain on me by abusing a child. I could not imagine the pain and helplessness I would endure having to turn my child over to this man. The public shrugs off my denial of a fair trial and justice. I did not have Nancy Grace crying outrage. No one cared; I was just another betrayed woman. I should have known better and not married him.
The state of Florida chose to spend countless funds to put Casey Anthony away. They want you to believe they are heroes who diligently protect the citizens of Florida. I beg to differ with this picture of the Florida Court System.
I have been involved in the Florida Family Court System for six years. I am told that I have to hire an attorney. I have hired attorneys; they all take lots of money from me, do not follow standards of professional conduct and expose me to a system similar to quicksand. It is quicksand where you sink, and the attorneys buy homes in Palm Beach and live a life of luxury off from the pain and anxiety of victimized citizens. You never get to leave. You have lost your rights. If you have children, the state now becomes the parent, so you have lost your parental rights. I was recently told by an attorney that Family Court is Civil Court, but not really.
System to employ lawyers
I was forced to sign a contract to settle and my former husband did not follow the contract. I am now aware that the system is set up to employ lawyers. It creates chaos and drama that disables litigants who are forced to employ additional legal services. Family Court is civil court, but not really? The state has set up a special court with no enforcement power. It is simply a way to employ mass numbers of lawyers and attempt to put up a mask that the State cares for it citizens. We will allow you to leave your abusive marriage, but you must give up your financial freedom and your children’s mental health to divorce your partner. I hear attorneys constantly quote, “It doesn’t matter if he is a drunk and beats you and your children, the law does not say he has to be a good parent.” “He still has parental rights” “If you try to deny visitation, then you will be held in contempt.”
The State of Florida will not spend money to revamp this system. Their friends and families are employed by this system. If they were to protect the citizens of Florida, they would not be considered team players. They would be considered whistle blowers.
Strategies for your court battle
What would I recommend to a woman who wants to escape? I would recommend getting the facts and information. Gather as much evidence as possible. Let the tape recorder become your friend. Keep it on 24 hours and record the verbal and emotional abuse. When your psychopath goes to court, he is going to play the hero Mel Gibson role and without the tapes, who would have believed the director of “Passion of the Christ” would yell and scream, hit and cause such physical injury? Or often the thoughts are, “She must have been such an angry woman, that she pushed him to it.” You won’t be able to use it in court, but the court officials now know the truth of the situation and will not be inclined to believe the psychopath.
Here are more suggestions:
- Save as much money as possible, because the State does not care if you have children and animals that you must feed and shelter.
- Read the state statutes. Attorneys will use your ignorance and misinform you about your rights. The state bar will not impose restrictions on these attorneys. I would recommend purchasing the jurisdictionary study guide, www.jurisdictionary.com.
- Have a friend who will escort you to court, because the psychopath will be waiting for you.
- Work with a trauma therapist. Most therapists do not understand the torture endured when trying to leave a psychopath.
- Interview several attorneys and choose an attorney who will work with you and also an attorney who understands how the legal game is much different with a psychopath.
- Make sure that the attorney files a motion for temporary support before anything else is implemented. The psychopath automatically wins if you do not have funds to survive.
- Slow the process down. The court wants you to become tired and to just settle. You can heal and be more prepared to fight if you slow the process of the divorce.
- Insist on counseling for the children. A psychopath does not want to be monitored and if court ordered to one agreed-upon therapist, the therapist can assist with helping the children and reporting to the court. A guardiem ad litem is not trained with mental health issues and will not be able to understand the psychopath dance. Insist on first right of refusal.
- The psychopath does not want the responsibility of the children and will put them with babysitters instead of being burdened with child care. Insist on a nightly phone call and come up with code words that the children can tell you to let you know they are in trouble.
- Teach your children relaxation skills. Allow your children to draw in a notebook, feelings, fears and especially happy power thoughts they can concentrate on when they feel scared.
- Make sure that there is a court reporter at every hearing. Sometimes attorneys will not hire a court reporter, especially if they are negotiating with the psychopath’s attorney to settle. Some court reporting agencies will allow you to hire them independently. The cost is usually and initial $90.00 dollars, well worth the cost if you have to appeal the judge’s decision.
- When you are forced to sign an agreement, make sure that the agreement states that if any party has to return to court to enforce the agreement, the guilty party will pay all court, attorney and loss of wage expenses. I have found that your attorney does not understand how the psychopath will play the court system and drag you back and forth. Insist this statement to protect you from this legal abuse, as some attorneys are salivating because they know it is a high conflict divorce (divorcing a sociopath).
I hope that my pain and suffering will decrease the pain and suffering of other women (men) and children. Please understand that I am not an attorney and cannot give legal advice. I am a citizen of Florida who was forced into a Family Court System that exposed me to legal abuse. Perhaps my pain will give you some weapons to protect yourself, friends and family members who need to enter the Family court system.
Please share this with those men and women who seek freedom from abuse so that their children may experience some emotional safety, even if it is only 50 percent of the time. Had Cindy Anthony left her husband, would her daughter have had a chance to develop emotional stability? Would Caylee be alive?
There are so many children dying emotionally in the Family Court Systems. They suffer the invisible injuries that I suffer. They are forced to visit an unsafe parent with no protection. They have been thrown into a swamp to die also.
The invisible injuries manifest in their live in many ways: They are afraid of authority figures (the law of the land would not protect them); they trust people they shouldn’t (they had to rely on the abusive parent); they attempt to rescue others, it takes the focus off their pain; they are hypervigilent (over react to perceived danger) and they try to move on after being violated by a system that should have protected them. They are highly sexual, display behavior problems, and have multiple addictions.
These children have been abandoned by a nation caught up in denial, blame and judgment. So while the nation forces it population to endure a special court with no enforcement power, as a nation we are all being left in a Florida swamp, rotting and decaying, sinking further into the quicksand.
I ask each of you to become informed and assist those who must enter the quicksand of legal abuse in Family Court. Listen to them, attend court with them. Pass on words of wisdom, help share the burden. Keep sharing your stories, perhaps one day we will have a Nancy Grace who will televise our pain to the nation and rescue us from the swamp waters and quicksand of Florida Family Court. We are being ignored by the judicial system, the legislative system and law enforcement also.