Opinion: Family Court System Expensive, Inefficient And Abusive

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

   | 8 Comments

On Feb. 26, there was a historic vote at the state Capitol in which family court Judge Leslie Olear was only narrowly reappointed by the legislature. This vote came after public protests which gained media attention and after legislators were called into action to address the serious problems in our state's family courts.

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    I appreciate the Chief Justice Rogers chimed in (years ago, we worked together at the same law firm.) I also appreciate her suggestions in regards to GAL Reform. However "more family relations people" and "more money" are not going to solve the inherent problems which have caused and allowed so many families to be abused by the court system. Its not going to solve the problem where over 11,557 cases are returned to the court post-ruling. That points to a far deeper problem and the one I wrote about - operational problems within the court system itself and judges making ineffective rulings. Reform must come from the top down, not the bottom up. With due respect, family relations people, have no authority to effect the kinds of changes now required. And the court system receives more than enough money - the issue is how they spend what they are given. As with an other institution, the court system needs to show improvement - and results.

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    Peter-Thank you for your tireless efforts in representing change in a very broken system. My humor this morning is from the person who googled you to find out your background. Perhaps if they scrolled down a bit further and read your testimony http://www.cga.ct.gov/2009/JUDdata/Tmy/2009HB-06629-R000309-Peter Szymonik-TMY.PDF they would see the open and honest person you are. You represent hundreds of victims of the broken court system and I thank you. Peace

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    This author, Peter Szymonik‘s, written opinion as put forth above, represents a Coalition of parents that make up 100s of Connecticut citizens that are currently in, or have been through, this state‘s family court system. He is not writing only his opinion here, as he represents 100s of us. He has been communicating with us parents on a regular basis for years gaining 650 supporters through his Web site Galreform.org. He has been hearing out our family court grief, hearing about our bankruptcies, our raids of our assets by GALs and others. He has heard about our children that have been heartbreakingly separated from us due to no just cause. He has heard us confide in him about the collusion that we witness between some Judges and their favored attorneys and GAL. He has heard 100s of us say we feel exploited. He is one of Connecticut‘s best supporters of families in Connecticut family court crisis and he not only advocates for all of us, he writes his opinion here representing us too. He advocates most especially for our children, far better than many of these overly paid family court GALs. There is more than a little room for improvement in Connecticut family courts. There is a need for TOTAL REFORM. This state‘s family court is in a crisis mode and finding itself in a downward spiral because too many people in positions to do something about it - have chosen to remain complacent and look the other way as their peers‘ profit margins grow from money that was court-ordered to be paid to them when it shouldn‘t have been. Not acknowledging and not giving credit to Mr. Syzmonik when he reports on the truth of what the consensus of our family court litigants believe to be true, is perpetuating the crisis and making it worse. If you are not going to be part of the solution by promoting progressive reform than you are part of the problem of complacency and are amongst those turning a blind eye to the devastation that these families are ROUTINELY facing from our CT family courts. I have found through my own research that most of the CT Family Court Reform advocates‘ harshest critiques come from those making the most money of it, and whom are currently profiting from our dysfunctional family court system operating its status quo way. No wonder they want to try to discredit those that are putting themselves out there promoting change. They protect their own profits by discrediting those that speak about the need for change. The families in CT family court pay dearly for that profit margin and the price is way too high. Change must happen. Therefore, change will happen no matter what the critiques try to smoke and mirror us all with. The truth of what is really going on here will prevail. Change WILL happen.

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    Additionally, my personal and professional references, are readily available on my LinkedIn profile - again, the power of social media.

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    With due respect to whoever raised the concern, an employment related litigation from 2005, has no bearing on my work or views in the area of family court reform. I welcome and would gladly answer questions presented if asked. I have nothing to be ashamed of, or hide. - P. Szymonik

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    I mean no disrespect but this is a subject that interests me a great deal and so I took the opportunity to research the author on Google. It appears that there are numerous lawsuits in which he is involved as a party, let me just say, more than one would expect of the ordinary parent or worker. Reading decisions and assessments of evidence, I find a shadow cast over the author‘s opinion here. There is always room for improvement, and there need always be periodic review and a willingness to reform the law to accommodate new knowledge and cultural change. That said,this opinion should be read with caution and in context.

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    In a recent meeting of the Law Revue Committee formed from Bill 6688 (a committee which did not include any divorced citizens), one committee member called the recent Massachusetts reform law a "disaster" (even though we have evidence to the contrary) and prevented what we consider a perfect opportunity to study a viable working system that addresses some of our concerns in the current law in Connecticut governing family court.

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    Thank you Peter for representing the 100s of parents that have come forward to express that they feel like justice has evaded them in our Connecticut family courts. We are not just a few parents who are speaking out, dozens of us are on the phone with our legislators and 90 parents came out to give testimony in person, or in written documentation, during the January 9th hearing and the subsequent one a week later for parents that couldn‘t get away on Jan 9th due to work and child care issues o,r because they felt too intimidated by the videotaped format going on during the January 9th hearing. Those 90 parents that spoke out in person, by written testimony, or by phone, represent only a small sample of the whole that feel disenfranchised and exploited by our Connecticut family courts. These families in Connecticut are lucky to have Peter Syzmonik out here writing about the core issue to help identify the problems and help to promote positive change. Change is much needed.

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