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Divorce Corp. Rebuttal

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While we applaud the work of Divorce Corp. in exposing one aspect of the problem in our divorce and family court, there are some points which we find troubling. Divorce Corp focuses on money. More money flows through our divorce courts than any other court system, but we believe there is a more important issue than money. That issue is the safety of children. That is is where we are focused and that is why we are asking for congressional oversight hearings. We recognize that our family courts are in crisis, but we believe that responsible changes must be made.

Judge Gothard, one of the experts you will see on Divorce Corp has issued the following rebuttal of some of the points the film makes. He ends by saying, “I am incensed that my name and character were used in this film. My remarks have been taken out of context and I believe I was misled. I am considering taking legal action.”

“I was asked to participate in Divorce Corp. regarding Family Court practices with respect to custody and the inequities and faults of the system. I readily agreed to participate because it was something I have been concerned with, first as an Assistant Chief Probation Officer in a Juvenile Court (6 years), then as a lawyer in private practice and also representing Child Protective Services (10 years), then as Juvenile Court Judge ((14 years), and finally Appellate Court judge (19 years). This totals almost 50 years, with involvement in over 2000 custody cases.

There is no question whatsoever that I participated in this “documentary” to stress the point that it is women who primarily get mistreated in the family courts in America

There is no question whatsoever that I participated in this “documentary” to stress the point that it is women who primarily get mistreated in the family courts in America for a variety of reasons that I’ve been lecturing about for over 50 yrs. I am appalled that my remarks have been taken out of context to make it appear that I support the utterly insane concept that mandatory equal parenting is the solution to anything. The only answer to the problem of custody decisions is to place the child with the most capable parent. Period. In contested custody cases which, by far, are the minority of cases, they must be heard before an impartial court of law. This is so simple that anything else defies the imagination.

It is inconceivable that I am portrayed as agreeing with those in this film advocating “Mandatory Equal Parenting”

It is inconceivable that I am portrayed as agreeing with those in this film advocating “Mandatory Equal Parenting”!! Contrary to their assertions that false allegations of abuse are common, one of the main problems in the Family Courts, with regard to custody, is that when a parent reports suspected abuse, as they are mandated by law to do, the courts, all too often, shift the paradigm by accusing the reporting parent of “parental alienation syndrome”. Although this has been thoroughly discredited, the same dynamics occur in the courts as those using the concept simply drop the “syndrome” part. Thus, the focus shifts from the possible abuse of a child to the parent alleging abuse.

Common sense dictates that first and foremost the alleged abuse be investigated. If proven to be made by up by a vindictive parent (and this does, of course happen, but in a small percentage of contested custody cases) let the courts then decide which parent is more capable. Any other approach endangers abused children.

I am incensed that my name and character were used in this film. My remarks have been taken out of context and I believe I was misled. I am considering taking legal action.”

Judge Sol Gothard, JD, MSW, ACSW
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal
State of Louisiana (ret)

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