Shared Parenting Information Group (SPIG) UK

- promoting responsible shared parenting after separation and divorce -

Advice on coping with an abusive legal culture

Revealing comments by Leonard Kerpelman - author of 'Divorce - a guide for men'

Prejudice has twisted family law. Under the guise of protecting a party whom the law regarded as helpless, the courts deny justice to men.

Each question will be decided subjectively, and often almost without guideposts, by a judge who has a free hand to exercise every prejudice in his mind, every bias in his heart, every mistake in cultural acquisition he has picked up over his 50/60/70 years of life.

You are in a psychodramatic struggle that depends very little on laws, but on your own aggressive demand for proper treatment.

In general judges still administer a law that regards women as helpless children, makes every presumption in their favour and gives them protection they do not need. There is a generation gap, an economic gap and they are male chauvinists, who have to show women how gallant they are, so justice is going to be a little hard to come by.

Remember: The judge just wants to get it over with and go off and play golf.

The American father's movement owes much to Dr Hanson who was so shocked and outraged by what the courts meted out to him and his family. His slogan was:

EQUALITY - we demand nothing more - we will accept nothing less


1. If you lose, you can win on appeal

2. Mother must be proved unfit for father to get custody.

3. Get the judge angry and you lose your case.

4. These cases are decided fairly.

5. These cases are decided dishonestly

6. A good lawyer is a sonofabitch.

7. The successful male litigant is Mr Nice.

8. Divorce is toughest for kids.

9. You can win by tricks.

10. Legislation will solve all the problems.

11. It's good to be co-operative with your wife in court.

12. Litigation takes longer than negotiation.

13. It's good to save on legal fees. The best lawyer is expensive

14. What you do in court is important - not how.

15. Show yourself as the better person and you win.

16. Court welfare officers and psychiatrists are neutral.

17. Meticulous detail wins.

Finding a lawyer

A sorry forlorn exercise, but it can and must be done. You need a good, dedicated and fearless lawyer, totally specialising in men.

The primary problem is not talent, but economics and fear. Few lawyers specialise in representing men in divorce, so most :

What is needed is not mildness, but :

Never hold back, never cease to demand equality, with politeness, dignity, courage, calm sureness, never offensive.

He must adhere to your interests and not compromise.

Be ready to dump him if he appears the wrong man for the job.

Interviews are of little use, solicitors do not have much free time, so must charge highly for it. It is more effective to use the phone (and cheaper too).

A good background would be in civil rights, constitution, environment or preservation - all championing the underdog and also poor payers.

As a last resort try young lawyers - they are keen to break new ground and are not impressed by the sacredness of the establishment.

Acting in person is better than using a tired hypocrite.

Fathers groups

A bad group

Inoffensive, look good in court, are gentlemanly, humble and obedient.

They encourage conciliation, dependence, deference, softness, compromise.

They are a "Talk a lot, do nothing group".

A good group

Know what to do and do it without shrinking.

Suitable slogans for picketing:

You must set yourself up as a citizen demanding his rights as well as consideration for the rights of your child.

Once you have adopted the attitude that court orders imply reasonableness and are open to interpretation, you can adopt the attitude : "I made the judgement that as my children were enjoying access so much, they might stay a little longer that night - after all mother knew they were safe with me".

The principles of child support

Child support is invariably set too high, is unfair and much fudged so as to be disguised maintenance for the ex-wife.

What is needed is an exact evaluation, apportioned according to after-tax earning capacity.

Things deemed necessary to the children's upkeep expand well beyond the bounds of rationality : private schools, presents, transport, holidays abroad - truth lies cowering and prostrate in the corner.

Voluntary offers should be stingy - the court will only increase them.

Demand receipts for food, clothing and transport.

WORK ON INCREMENTAL COSTS : Instead of adding up all the costs and saying 3/4 attributable to the children, just look at the incremental cost of the extra bedrooms, food, gas and travel.

BE STINGY - DON'T BE NICE. Let her know that she is on her own. Whatever you offer, the judge will up it. You want to look bad in court - stubborn, principled, single minded, unswayable, determined, immovable. The judge will then realise that you are not a soft touch.

Get to know what the questions are.

Beware the phoney assault charges. Make counter charges and delay the hearing until after the divorce.


Possession is 9/10 of the law, so get the children and keep them. Forget about proving her unfit, it can't be done even if she is a whore, an alcoholic or mentally unstable.

Once a father has the kids, then friends, neighbours and the kids themselves will tell what a good job he is doing.

Beware joint custody orders - they are made at the expense of father custody.

Judges love compromise:

Beware the ex-parte orders - the judge is just waiting to sign one against you, to give the child to the mother. These orders are based on one sided stories, preconceptions and prejudice that fathers are monsters and children belong to their mothers.

Ex-parte orders are undemocratic and prevent father building up a track record of care, or proper evaluation by welfare workers.

The children are being snatched by the judiciary without hearing all the evidence. If you snatch, don't hurry to court - you'll lose.

A lawyer's view

Men's cases are sure losers

Representing fathers is the worst branch of the practice - it greatly hampers a lawyer's ability to function in other areas. If he does his job right the judges will hate him and he will never again have cases which get him on the good side of judges.

Nobody wants the work.

It is undesirable work - representing women is more profitable. With men the lawyer is entirely certain to have a dissatisfied client and the payment problem is abominable - it is hard to collect. Maintenance is always a sticking point.

Fair legal fees would be $ 30,000 - not the $ 750 the client expects, but the market won't stand it so $ 2-3,000 is the most you can get. Personal injuries work is much more profitable, and involves less work and emotion.

The only advantage is a legitimate line of business with satisfied clients.

What is wanted are fearless lawyers totally specialising in men.

Women's lawyers :

All counterproductive

Build your case on facts and law, BUT do not be quiet, obsequious and accepting - you will be steamrollered and lose.

Acquiesce and you lose

It is necessary to arouse hostility.

Assisting your lawyer

Use the telephone - it saves everybody's time (and money) and it spreads the thinking time. Call him frequently.

Divorce law is simplistic and not interested in nuances or detail. Don't bore the judge.

In court - the psychodrama

Everything you say will have a psychological effect that will be important in determining the outcome.

Keep a grip on the judge:

Leash him in, restrain him from exercising his desired bias - that deadly prejudice in the name of chivalry.

Address him as "judge"

Don't waste your time proving her to be unfit - it denigrates you and invite abuse. Prove something about yourself.

Appear as someone who will:

Be demanding and have a reasonable expectation of justice.

When talking finance, remind him we must all economise. Highlight the gap between his salary and yours.

Assisting at trial

A good lawyer has vision, experience, talent and an iron will. Beware - any testimony is acceptable if there is no objection.

Do not act as if you believe the judge - stand more slowly, sit down early.

Attack, attack, never apologise.

Remember the judge is biased - he wants the children with their mother and himself out on the golf course.

If the children are in your possession they are :

Experts need to spend several hours on several days with the children, observing their relationship with you.

Don't be a loser or a doormat. Why say "Don't want to upset the children" when you mean "Don't want to upset the wife".

Beware reconciliation - it may be a trick, used to escape from an impossible situation.


Go for defined access at:

"Reasonable access" is open to HER reasonableness; get it defined every time.

If you are a custodial parent:

Rush into court at once if there is denial of access or alienation by a cruel domineering monster. If the judge minimises the problem, then scream - he is denigrating the only minor remnant of a relationship you have left with your kids.

Be tenacious.

But when the war is over and you are away from judges and lawyers, display charity, tolerance and love.

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