Print Posted by Mark B. Baer, Inc., a Professional Law Corporation on 04/21/2015

If You Ask the Wrong Questions, You Get the Wrong Answers

If You Ask the Wrong Questions, You Get the Wrong Answers

Considering my experience with Philosophy and the Law in law school, it is incredibly ironic that I have become increasingly philosophical.  The following was the introduction to a blog titled Philosophy and the Law that I published on February 5, 2011:  "Almost a quarter of a century ago, as a first year law student, I was required to take a course on Philosophy and the Law. I absolutely hated that class, did not understand its importance, and found the subject matter very frustrating and difficult to comprehend. I recall the Professor calling upon me to answer questions relating to the material and being completely incapable of responding intelligently. To my surprise, I now regularly find myself involved in discussions relating to Philosophy and the Law as a result of my writings and people's frustrations with regard to the legal system and family law attorneys. I am proud to say that I have evolved since taking that course and have come to develop a rather fond appreciation for philosophy."  That blog edited and republished in the March/April 2011 edition of the San Gabriel Valley Psychological Association's bimonthly newsletter.

 

Since then, I have determined that people make a great many assumptions and that they reach the wrong conclusion as a result.  I love the following quote from an article by Stacey Neil LMFT CPT titled "And Yet Another Reason We Shouldn't Assume": Want to make an ass out of you and me? One of the easiest ways to do it is to assume. Making assumptions is risky, full of ego, and typically inaccurate by its very nature, and yet most of us do it all of the time. I had a funny thing happen yesterday that reminded me of why it is not just with each other that we make this mistake, but also in the everyday things we do in our daily lives all by ourselves. We make assumptions based on many learned things including our underlying belief systems. Belief systems that include how truly amazing we believe we are as humans, while also thinking we hold the righteous power of being all knowing (when in actuality we don’t really know much about most stuff at all)."

 

In fact, just yesterday, I had an interview with a journalist who is writing an article about the complexities of parenting plans, when parents live in different states or countries because of the geographic distance between them.  I pointed out the error in her thinking, by asking her whether it would be an issue if the parents lived in two difference states, but right across the boarder from each other.  I then asked her if she was certain that the geographic distance from state to state or country to country would be greater than the distance from San Diego to San Francisco, both of which happen to be in California. 

 

She had interviewed a number of other people prior to our interview, and nobody else had corrected her assumption.  I am not going to share more from that interview at this point because her article has not yet been published and I am sure that her article will be wonderful, especially after I called her out on some of her assumptions.  I did the same when she interviewed me for her article titled "Co-Parenting With Different Values: Being Bigger Than Our Problems" and it turned out to be an amazing article. 

 

Only a few days earlier, on April 16, 2015, I had an interview with a different journalist who is doing a story on income inequality when it comes to divorcing parents and how that impacts women's ability to pay shared expenses. 

 

First, I pointed out that she was making an assumption that men are the primary wage earners.  The following is a quote from an article by Catherine Rampell titled "U.S. Women on the Rise as Family Breadwinner" that was published in the New York Times on May 29, 2013:  "Four in 10 American households with children under age 18 now include a mother who is either the sole or primary earner for her family, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census and polling data released Wednesday. This share, the highest on record, has quadrupled since 1960."

 

Second, I asked her whether she was aware of the fact that "a family's income needs to increase by almost a third to maintain the pre-divorce standard of living in two households."

 

Third, I mentioned that when a married couple owned a family residence and have minor children, it is not uncommon for the wife to take the family residence in the divorce as her share of the marital property, if at all possible.  A great many articles have been written about this issue and the fact that it could be a huge mistake.  One such article by Jeff Landers titled "Four Questions To Consider Before Deciding To Keep Your Marital Home" was published in Forbes on February 17, 2015.  People need to understand that if they become house poor as a result of their decision and can no longer afford to continue paying for their children's extracurricular activities and other such things, they were not acting in the children's best interest, regardless of their belief.  If children had a choice of moving out of the family residence, remaining in their school district and continuing with their extracurricular activities or remaining in the family residence, they would most likely prefer not to be house poor. 

 

After my interview with that journalist, she indicated that she would be writing several articles based upon the information she learned from me.

 

People also get all up in arms when they hear stories of children suing their parents to pay their college tuition in states which have such laws in place.  What people don't comprehend is that "some states require ongoing support to ensure that children of divorce are not shortchanged.  Ninety percent of parents in intact relationships who can afford to pay some or all of the cost of their children’s education, do.  That percentage decreases to 30 percent in non-intact families. So I think that some states enacted these laws because they’re tired of parents screwing over their children."

 

In my most recently published article titled “To Resolve or Manage Conflict, You Must Address the Actual Cause of the Problem,” I discuss a true story of a simple misunderstanding and how it became high conflict through the use of the family law system. 

 

In my article titled "Life Is Like Physics," I explain how religious beliefs have caused a great many of the problems we are experiencing in this country with regard to parents' inability to financially support their children, among other things. 

 

I'm afraid that if you ask the wrong questions, you get the wrong answers.

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