Men in Massachusetts should simply not show up to defend restraining orders, divorces, and other family law matters?

Comments: * Google “Phil Greenspun divorce” for some amusing stories about the economics rewards of divorce. Basically marrying and divorcing an investment banker or a surgeon is a lot better life than becoming a banker or surgeon.

* Greenspun is obsessed with the idea that all a woman needs to do is sleep with 2 or 3 rich orthodontists and she will make more money than if she had gotten the degree herself.

Philip Greenspun writes:

One intriguing idea that I learned at the hearing was that in some cases men might be better off not showing up to court when a case is being decided under the family law and domestic violence system. U.S. Census data from March 2014 show that, when there is enough income for a child to yield a cashflow, men in Massachusetts lose custody lawsuits roughly 97 percent of the time. Typically the man is therefore spending $100,000 to $1 million in legal fees in order to have a shot at being one of the 3 percent. But is the guy actually digging his own grave by showing up?

[In theory the law, unlike in some European and Islamic jurisdictions, is gender-neutral. And, as discussed below, the citizens who came to the hearing included a woman who lost custody of her children due to her higher-income, harder-working status. In practice, however, attorneys say that men cannot prevail on a domestic violence complaint against a woman.]

“I was advised by my lawyer not to show up to defend against a restraining order,” said one father, “because if the man doesn’t show up he can be restrained for only 7 days but if he does show up the order can last for a year.” One take-away from the hearing was that when when the children were potentially profitable, motivated female plaintiffs would eagerly seek, and typically win, restraining orders to keep children from seeing their fathers.

[“The Domestic Violence Parallel Track” explains why this is typically a powerful tool for plaintiffs nationwide, but in Massachusetts a restraining order has a specific cash value. Given a $250,000-per-year defendant, for example, obtaining ordinary “winner parent” status and 2/3 time with the child yields $40,000 per year in tax-free cash via the child support guidelines plus, typically, an order that the defendant pay 100% of the child’s actual expenses (e.g., day care, uninsured medical/dental). If a plaintiff can get the defendant entirely excluded from the child’s life, judges are explicitly encouraged to award additional child support (due to the fact that father is not providing free babysitting 1/3 time). Having 100% “custody” may simply mean dumping the child into commercial care, such as day care or with nannies, and the loser parent will pay for those on top of the enhanced child support.]

[Of course, this advice would not be good in a state that offers fathers a realistic chance at obtaining 50/50 parenting time schedule, e.g., Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Maine, Pennsylvania ]

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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