Three short essays within Family law
A sunshine story in all the misery
My absolute favourite client of 1992! He rode from Landskrona to Kävlinge on a delivery moped. With a snub nose, looks were not his strong point. Roger from Östergötland was a sober alcoholic, a Pentecostalist, and spoke like a machine gun. But he loved his 4-year-old daughter Emily more than anything else on Earth.
Roger rang me daily, and I was forced to bluntly stop his machine-gun speech. “You can either sign a power of attorney letting me be your legal representative and follow the rules of the game, or you can look for someone who will listen to your monologues.” To my surprise, Roger signed the power of attorney the next day.
The mother – who was also a Pentecostalist – had moved to Örebro with their daughter and refused to hand her over to Roger in accordance with the interim visitation rights that were awarded by Landskrona district court. After the hearing in Örebro county administrative court concerning the enforcement of this decision, we took the train back again. Roger was certain that we had won, but I was not so sure. When I got off at Kävlinge, Roger jumped onto the platform and cried out loudly: “Hallelujah!! God bless you, Mårten!” Being a legal representative is worth something at times like that.
We won. But this did not mean much. I travelled with Roger to Örebro for the first visitation – 10 am to 4 pm. Without me, he would not have had a chance of getting his daughter out of the Pentecostal pre-school. And I can assure you, it was tough. We hired a car – it was pleasant summer weather and we had planned to go to a swimming area. A woman from the social welfare board had been appointed as a supervisor. We were cunning and put her in the front seat. Roger and Emily sat in the backseat and naturally Roger and nobody else was going to help the girl with her safety belt. I had brought a camera along and took pictures at the swimming area.
The next visitation was in Landskrona. By this time, the woman from the social welfare board had come to realise the extent to which the civil servants had lied to her. She went to Lund and met some friends, and let Roger and Emily have time together by themselves. Unfortunately, she later chose to leave the social welfare board. It was people like her who were needed there.
Naturally, Roger also wanted to have me as his representative in Landskrona district court, in the custody case itself. But here things came to a sudden stop. If anyone were to ask Roger, I am certain that he would state on oath the following remark by Stellan Fors, the district court judge: “Mårten will not receive a krona.”
The family law industry
The description below might seem shocking to some. However, it is unfortunately true, and it has been so for several decades. This example from Sweden could apply, to a greater or lesser extent, to the whole of Europe.
The goal of this industry is to increase its turnover. In contrast to businesses like Volvo and Stora Enzo, the family law industry does not have to make a profit. The departments that deal with family law in Sweden’s municipalities are the engine and heart of this industry. “In the best interests of the child” is in reality “the greatest amount of damage to children, adults and society”. This is what the goals of the industry actually amount to.
When you have understood this, the actions of the parties involved become completely logical. For example, that the legal system, with a few exceptions, favours those who break the law and punishes those who follow it.
Other participants in the industry: the Swedish Social Insurance Agency, the police (as a footnote, many honest police officers refuse to participate in the activities of the industry, such as the taking of children into care, though there are enough police officers who are willing to do so!), the Swedish Prosecution Authority, the legal system, the Swedish Tax Agency, the Swedish Enforcement Administration, lawyers, psychologists, psychiatrists, consultants, the National Board of Health and Welfare, the Ombudsman for Children, the Ombudsman for Justice, BRIS (Children’s Rights in Society) – and I have probably forgotten several others!
Organisations such as women's refuges, men's centres, organisations for the rights of the father and organisations for the rights of the mother increase the polarisation of the sexes. This is completely in the interests of the industry.
The industry gives the public the impression of acting “in the best interests of the child” and that Sweden is a nation governed by the rule of law. That this should be the case is the wish of all law-abiding citizens.
This industry develops and refines the language of violence. Law-abiding people and their children who come into contact with the industry do not have a chance and are completely crushed. Many – and in particular previously well-functioning fathers – end up as welfare recipients, and the children become, to different degrees, damaged for life. The worst affected children suffer from PAS (Parental alienation syndrome). The damage that these PAS affected children will cause society will also raise the industry’s turnover. And there are already several generations of PAS affected children in Swedish society today! Fully in keeping with the goals of the industry.
A social worker who wants to help vulnerable people and follow the law should not bother looking for work with a Swedish social welfare service. Such a person would be working against the goal of the industry.
An anecdote from 1991: I sat in a café in a civic centre in Skåne and overheard a conversation between the ladies of a family law department. The family law secretary said: “We’ll just take a few more children into care and we'll be able to have a new position!” On hearing this, all of the ladies around the table laughed heartily.
I do not have the same sort of humour, but they are truly worthy representatives of the industry.
This industry is strong, and it is not much affected by the state of the economy. In times of crisis, it is others who have to make savings. In contrast, the actors in the industry benefit from social crises. They have money when no one else has it and can buy at knock-down prices when the market is at its lowest (this happened in 1992). However, it is not the industry that creates these crises - it is the politicians and the banks that do so.
A woman's speech to the man that she loves (Alternatively, with small changes: A mother's speech to a loved son)
The moment that I become pregnant, I have total power over you – regardless of whether we are married or living together. This power increases exponentially with every child we have.
I can kidnap the children at any time and make sure that you never get to see them again. That you took the full responsibility for the children for many years will not help you, rather, the exact opposite. The entire community, with the social services in the lead, will support me. I can get the children to hate you and their paternal grandparents – PAS – “Parental Alienation Syndrome” *– so you can forget any hope of their mailing you or looking you up when they grow up or become adults. You will naturally receive a restraining order and will risk prison if you break it. Even if I seriously injure the children physically, and somebody reports me, you do not have a chance. If the children are taken from me, they will not be given to you, but rather placed in a foster home, which you – in your capacity as the non-custodial parent – will not receive information about from the social services.
I can, without risk, falsely accuse you of assault, ill treatment of the children, rape and incest. Furthermore, I can carry out a number of other crimes against you without being punished for them, such as serious theft. Because you are not a total abstainer, you will also be classed as an alcoholic. In Sweden, there is a considerable risk that you will go to prison as an innocent person. Even if you were to be acquitted, you will be marked for life. “No smoke without fire.”
But you will not get away with not making your payments! The Enforcement Authority will not show any mercy when it come to alimony. They will not hesitate for a second in taking whatever you own, your flat, your summer cabin, or your car, if you do not pay.
If you talk too much about these injustices at your workplace, you risk losing your job. And not receiving another one. In any event, not one that matches your qualifications. If you are self-employed, you will be punished by nobody buying from you – regardless of how good your products are or what value for money they are.
No one will help you – not even your closest “friends”. On the contrary, everyone will attack you like piranhas.
Your greatly weakened finances will make it hard for you to start a new relationship.
Around 10 000 Swedish mothers a year act in the way described above to a greater or lesser degree. Many of the affected fathers have become alcoholics or drug-takers, and ended up in the gutter for the remainder of their lives. Or committed suicide.
No guarantees apply. I can break agreements at any time. And if, for example, a postpartum psychosis – something that affects about one in every thousand women – were to change my mental state, the situation will probably turn out very badly for you and our children.
If you would still like to have children with me, at least you now know the risks, and I have not lied to you. It is your choice.
*Closely related to the so-called “Stockholm syndrome”.