Five Shocking Ways Family Court Can Manipulate and Control You:

Five Shocking Ways Family Court Can Manipulate and Control You:

In family law proceedings, you may be aware that each parent will have a solicitor, junior counsel, and perhaps senior counsel. Strikingly, the children who are the subject of the proceedings do not have a legal person advocating on their behalf. You will no doubt be aware that the solicitors job is to represent their client and not the subject child or children. I offer the following for your review, reflection, and consideration:

Navigating the family court system can be one of the most challenging and emotionally taxing experiences of your life. Many individuals enter family court hoping for fair and just resolutions, only to find themselves feeling manipulated and controlled by the very system designed to help them. Here are five shocking ways family court can exert control and influence over your life.

1. Prolonging the Process

Family court proceedings are notorious for their lengthy timelines. Delays can be due to various reasons, including overloaded court schedules, procedural requirements, or strategic postponements. Prolonging the process can:

  • Increase Emotional Stress: The longer the case drags on, the more emotional strain it places on the involved parties, potentially causing mental health issues like anxiety or depression.
  • Escalate Financial Burden: Legal fees, court costs, and the necessity for expert witnesses or additional documentation can drain your financial resources over time.
  • Leverage Compliance: Extended timelines can pressure individuals into settlements or agreements simply to end the ongoing stress and uncertainty.

2. Biased Reports

An assessor is often appointed to represent the best interests of the child in custody disputes. However, these reports can sometimes be biased or influenced by external factors leading to unjust outcomes.

  • Subjective Assessments: Assessor’s may form opinions based on personal, gendered, or limited interactions with the family.
  • Influence of External Parties: In some cases, assessor’s may be swayed by attorneys, other court officials, or even one of the parents, leading to skewed reports.
  • Lack of Accountability: Challenging an assessor’s report can be difficult, as courts often give significant weight to their findings.

3. Using Psychological Evaluations

Psychological evaluations are tools the court uses to assess the mental health of parents and children. These evaluations can sometimes be used manipulatively:

  • Subjective Interpretations: The results can be interpreted in various ways, depending on the assessor’s perspective and the questions posed by the court.
  • Creating Doubt: Even without definitive findings, suggesting the need for an evaluation can cast doubt on a parent’s capability, affecting their credibility and case.
  • Mandating Compliance: Courts may use the results to mandate counselling or therapy, adding to the burden on the evaluated party.

4. Coercing Settlements

Family court often encourages settlements to reduce caseloads and avoid lengthy trials. This can lead to coercive practices:

  • Pressure tactics: Judges and solicitors/barristers may apply pressure on parties to settle, suggesting dire consequences if they proceed to trial.
  • Unequal Bargaining Power: One party may feel coerced into accepting unfavourable terms due to emotional, financial, or legal pressure.
  • Lack of Informed Consent: Individuals may agree to settlements without fully understanding their rights or the long-term implications.

5. Enforcing Strict Compliance

Family court orders are legally binding, and strict compliance is often enforced through various measures:

  • Contempt of Court: Failure to comply with court orders can result in being held in contempt, leading to fines, jail time, or loss of custody.
  • Micromanagement: Courts can issue highly specific orders regarding parenting time, communication, and decision-making, leaving little room for personal discretion.
  • Surveillance and Monitoring: The court may order supervised access, mandatory check-ins, significantly infringing on personal freedoms.

Other challenges may include:

Biased Judgements

Family courts can sometimes display clear biases, favouring one parent over the other based on outdated gender stereotypes or preconceived notions. This can result in unfair rulings that significantly impact your life and your relationship with your children.

Limited Voice

Family court sometimes restricts your ability to present your full story. Whether through time constraints or procedural rules, you might find yourself unable to fully explain your situation, leading to decisions based on incomplete information.

Restrictive Orders

Temporary access or custody orders can be issued with minimal evidence, severely restricting your children’s access to you. These orders can last for months before you get a chance to contest them in court.

Financial Disparities

The court’s decisions can be heavily influenced by the financial resources of the parties involved. Those with more money can afford better legal representation, expert witnesses, and other resources, giving them a significant advantage.

Lack of Transparency

Family courts often operate with a lack of transparency. Decisions can be made behind closed doors, with little explanation or accountability, leaving you feeling confused and powerless.

Enforcement of Court Orders

Courts can be aggressive in enforcing their orders, sometimes without adequate evidence. This can include jail time for non-compliance, which can feel like an overreach of power.


You may expect that family court is a place of fairness and justice, but in reality, it can sometimes feel like an arena of manipulation and control with no regard for a parent’s well being, financially, psychologically, or emotionally. You may notice the absence of any consideration regarding the child or children involved.

The family court system, while designed to resolve disputes and protect vulnerable parties, can sometimes exert manipulative and controlling influences over those involved.

Discerning clients retain decision making control over their separation or divorce by utilising separating couple mediation. See my blog about this here:

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