Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Pandemic Highlights Problems for Family Courts

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Throughout the pandemic, we have seen the effects that COVID-19 has had on families across the country. But little attention has been given to the increasing rates of divorce and domestic violence, combined with the decreased access to family courts with long delays. Which makes now the perfect time to make some long-overdue changes to the divorce process that will benefit the system in the long term.

Personality disorders are a huge and largely unrecognized problem in society and they are dominating our family courts. With the additional anxiety brought on by COVID, people with these disorders act worse, not better. The diagnostic manual for mental health professionals suggests that 15% of U.S. adults have at least one personality disorder. Those with so-called Cluster B personality disorders (narcissistic, antisocial, borderline, histrionic) are considered to be erratic, emotional and dramatic. A recent study on interpersonal dysfunction in personality disorders found that they specifically impact relationships “with one’s children, parents, peers, and romantic partners” and are particularly “domineering, vindictive, and intrusive.”

Recently, a study by Santa Clara University School of Law found that these personality disorders are a big part of what drives high-conflict cases in family courts — the ones that drag on for years, with stacks of paperwork, numerous lawyers and judges, crushing financial and emotional burdens for parents, and constant distress to their children. In many of these cases, one parent loses their relationship with a child because of alienating behaviors. In extreme cases, this can escalate into homicide and suicide.

Read more here.

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