Family Law Totally Different than Civil Law

Family Law Is Different than Civil Law

Family Law Totally Different than Civil Law/Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi from Pexels

Family courts are so different than traditional civil courts.  Honestly, litigation does not belong in family law.  I know it’s necessary sometimes because some people are just so unreasonable.   If you go down to the family court, it will remind you of a bad episode of Jerry Springer.  People are at their worst.

If this is you, pick yourself up.  You can change.  Hopefully this article will convince you to be reasonable, and NOT to litigate your divorce case.  Family court is not civil court. There are no winners in divorce.  I pray that after you read this, you will consider handling your divorce like a grown-up, and mediate.

Family Law Litigation Vastly Different than Civil Law
Evidence? What Evidence Code?

In civil law, traditional rules of evidence are often heeded. Not in family law.


You don’t see people screaming, yelling, spitting, punching and threatening the other side in civil court.  Well, at least not as much.

This is Your Family

Unlike the total strangers suing each other in family court: people who hit your car, the boss who sexually harassed you then fired you, slumlords, big evil corporations, the parties in family court are family.  There are no Plaintiffs and Defendants; only Petitioners and Respondents.  The girl on the other side is your WIFE.  You’re the plaintiff and respondent is the father of your children.

Family Law Parties Are Bound By Invisible Thread

Laura Schroff, author of one of my favorite books, “An Invisible Thread” said this: “An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, and circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle. But it will never break.”

There is no quote more on point than this for Family Law.  It’s family.  If you have children with someone, you are bound by a thread.  It may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.

If you polled people going through a nasty divorce, they would may instinctively blurt out, “I would rather he/she die than go through divorce with him/her.”  We’ve ALL had these fights with our spouses, where you’ve wanted them dead. That’s why this scene in Marriage Story makes everyone cry.

News for the litigator: They don’t really mean this.  Most people don’t really want people dead.  What they mean is they want to sever the pain by severing the ties.  But since they can’t sever the ties, they feel eternally in pain.

As a family lawyer, you must immediately dispel the delusion that you can “pay to get custody”.   Quickly and swiftly destroy any unhealthy vampirical need for blood.  Divorce isn’t revenge.  This isn’t War of the Roses, the 18th century, or Japan.  You MUST teach your clients that for the majority, divorcing a spouse does not mean your child loses a parent.

In family law, the parties are forever bound by an invisible thread that does not exist in civil law.

There Are No Victims in Family Law

There are no victims in family law.  The only victims are the innocent children caught up in the bullshit behavior of parents who engage in nasty custody battles.

Family Law Cases are Much More Stressful

Going through a divorce with children is one of the most difficult things in life.  In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe examined the medical records of over 5,000 medical patients as a way to determine whether stressful events might cause illnesses. Patients were asked to tally a list of 43 life events based on a relative score.

Divorce is listed amongst adults as the 2nd (after death of spouse) most stressful life event affecting health, and the 4th amongst non-adults.  Incidentally, death of a parent ranks 1st amongst children.

Arguably, divorce is both #1 and #2.  It causes stress to adults and children, affecting their health.


The sum of the life change units of the applicable events in the past year of an individual’s life gives a rough estimate of how stress affects health.  A score of 300+ is at risk of illness.

Life eventLife change units
Death of a spouse100
Marital separation65
Death of a close family member63
Personal injury or illness53
Dismissal from work47
Marital reconciliation45
Change in health of family member44
Sexual difficulties39
Gain a new family member39
Business readjustment39
Change in financial state38
Death of a close friend37
Change to different line of work36
Change in frequency of arguments35
Major mortgage32
Foreclosure of mortgage or loan30
Change in responsibilities at work29
Child leaving home29
Trouble with in-laws29
Outstanding personal achievement28
Spouse starts or stops work26
Beginning or end of school26
Change in living conditions25
Revision of personal habits24
Trouble with boss23
Change in working hours or conditions20
Change in residence20
Change in schools20
Change in recreation19
Change in church activities19
Change in social activities18
Minor mortgage or loan17
Change in sleeping habits16
Change in number of family reunions15
Change in eating habits15
Major Holiday12
Minor violation of law11

A modified scale has also been developed for non-adults. Similar to the adult scale, stress points for life events in the past year are added and compared to the rough estimate of how stress affects health.[8][9]

Life EventLife Change Units
Death of parent100
Unplanned pregnancy/abortion100
Getting married95
Divorce of parents90
Acquiring a visible deformity80
Fathering a child70
Jail sentence of parent for over one year70
Marital separation of parents69
Death of a brother or sister68
Change in acceptance by peers67
Unplanned pregnancy of sister64
Discovery of being an adopted child63
Marriage of parent to stepparent63
Death of a close friend63
Having a visible congenital deformity62
Serious illness requiring hospitalization58
Failure of a grade in school56
Not making an extracurricular activity55
Hospitalization of a parent55
Jail sentence of parent for over 30 days53
Breaking up with boyfriend or girlfriend53
Beginning to date51
Suspension from school50
Becoming involved with drugs or alcohol50
Birth of a brother or sister50
Increase in arguments between parents47
Loss of job by parent46
Outstanding personal achievement46
Change in parent’s financial status45
Accepted at college of choice43
Being a senior in high school42
Hospitalization of a sibling41
Increased absence of parent from home38
Brother or sister leaving home37
Addition of third adult to family34
Becoming a full-fledged member of a church31
Decrease in arguments between parents27
Decrease in arguments with parents26
Mother or father beginning work26

Have a case like this?

Family matters are extremely personal, and it is important for us to know details of your case before giving advice. Each case is different, and it is important to find an attorney you trust. To arrange an appointment, please call us at (626) 765-5767 between 8:30am – 5:00pm, Mondays to Fridays, or fill out the form below.

Schedule a Consultation