Individuals who have had direct involvement with family law and the Utah family courts know best how frustrating, and sometimes how unjust the system can be. Reform is needed, now! No one knows and understands the importance and urgency of this issue more than those Utahns trapped in this broken system and/or subject to its failures. Nothing, for example, illustrates the tragedy of bureaucracy in the family court system than the recent horror involving the family of Susan Powell. While the family court at issue in that disaster was in another state, it is DANGEROUS AND NAIVE to think something similar will not happen here in the future, if serious changes are not made, quickly.
Developments in how states approach family law, family court and related issues are literally occurring at break-neck speed. But, this is not true in Utah. While there have been significant accomplishments in Utah, the vast majority of recommendations and reforms from task forces, previous legislative reviews, and professional organizations are unimplemented and the legislature regularly “punts” on this issue as well. At present, the family law system in Utah is a complex bureaucracy that often produces unintended and tragic results. Even worse, the system is prone to abuse by attorneys, bureaucrats, and government employees who know how to work the system to accomplish private agendas. Utah cannot afford to stay behind in this area. Parents and children affected by divorce are especially unprotected in many areas and subject to abuse.
The system needs reform, either one significant step at a time, or wholesale overhaul. But, this won’t happen unless elected legislators have the determination to take on a very difficult and politically charged arena. I am ready to do just that. Recent legislation like HB 107 are steps in the right direction, but this law represents a small piece of a very large, unjust mess. Representative Froerer from Ogden should be supported for his efforts, but it is a MISTAKE to think that incremental adjustments are enough. Freedom is a better approach to family law than assuming overworked judges can craft out of thin air, ideal family solutions. More emphasis must be given and more accommodations made to allow free Utah citizens as individuals, spouses, parents and family members to work out their own solutions rather than excessive, heavy handed reliance upon government bureaucracy.
The Plan I support:
- Revisiting the structure of the family court system.
- Develop coordinated oversight between family related agencies and law enforcement.
- Restructure parent-time and custody laws to better enable the interests of families (parents and children).
- Amend existing family law in Utah to more consistently reflect federal legal developments regarding faith, schooling, and health care for Utah families.
- Implement a new “fast track” mechanism for easier/more effective dispute resolution between divorced parties and for non-custodial parents.
- Establish a new, legislatively directed task force to make further recommendations and changes, including among the normal cast, community members who are private citizens, attorneys, educators and other non-government parties.