Yesterday was another hearing in family court. My expectations were low. I no longer walk into these things hoping for the best. I can’t. Experience has taught me to expect the worst. The failures of the system and the people who function within in it are unimaginable to the outside world. If I wasn’t living it, I wouldn’t have believed this story myself.
In this episode, I anticipated that information would be misrepresented, that people would do as little as possible and the court would send everyone back home with nothing but another court date. We would then have another few months to ponder our future. Yes, I sound bitter and sort of hopeless, but I consider myself only jaded and mildly discouraged. It’s semantics, but it helps to avoid the disappointment.
The courthouse was as chaotic as it normally is. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait hours before something happened. Sometimes being exposed to the madness of the environment in that place is as bad as the hearing itself. As we sat before the judge, I anticipated a few fireworks since all of the parties seemed to be on divergent paths. I didn’t imagine that anyone would be able to agree to anything. So fireworks yes, but resolution, no. I never expect that. It was curious that neither parent was in the courthouse.
When things got underway, we quickly found out that they weren’t the only ones missing. Neither of the parents’ attorneys were there either. After forty-five minutes of hunting them down, the proceedings began. We discovered that the mother’s attorney was out sick. Her stand-in argued that since she had no knowledge of the case and had never even met the parents, she was not prepared to argue the case. Though others argued that the trial should go on, the Master relented.
Then discussion focused on the absence of both parents. The GAL argued that this was an example of their continued lack of commitment to the plan of reunification. It was documented that neither of the parents’ attorneys knew the whereabouts of their client. The judge agreed to postpone the hearing once again based upon the parents failure to appear, but she warned that the trial would move forward at the next court date in January.
In addition to focusing on their failure to appear, it seems that no one in that courtroom had forgotten the trouble that the parents had gotten into over the summer. I feared that the longer the hearing was pushed out, the more people would begin to minimize the events that occurred in July and ultimately the reason for the trial. During the hearing however, Social Services acknowledged that they were prepared to have the police officer who had handled the incident, testify at the trial. He had been standing outside the courtroom. This was to be the hearing that we had expected so many times to see, but had never materialized—a trial with witnesses and testimony and evidence. There would be hard questions and some accountability—finally—but alas it was not to be.
It was another postponement—another disappointment—but things seem to be different. The willingness of the parties to continue along this path has waned. I suspect that no matter what happens from here on out, it won’t happen without a fight. I suspect that the days of backroom agreements and continuances are over. There is reason to be hopeful.
And there is Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and just about the time of the next hearing, our son’s 4th birthday. My god he is almost 4. For many reasons, it just makes me want to cry.