News & Politics

Is Our Family Court System Abusive and Broken? A Grassroots Filmmaker Investigates

(Image via YouTube screenshot)

“[The American family court] is a system that is corrupt on his best day. It is like being tied to the back of a pickup truck and dragged down a gravel [road] late at night. No one can hear your cries and complaints and it is not over until they say it’s over.”

That’s from Oscar nominee and Tony award winning actor Alec Baldwin in his searing memoir on his divorce from actress Kim Basinger. Baldwin is very wealthy and at the time of his divorce, could afford any attorney he wanted to represent him. He had access to the best publicists who could spin his story any way he chose.

Yet even Alec Baldwin walked away from his family court experience a changed man with deep and lasting scars. He has since said that while he has no interest in political office, if he were elected, he would seek to reform the family court system, because it is so deeply damaged and dysfunctional.

Is he right?

A new grassroots investigative film is raising money via Kickstarter to answer this question. It’s  called Man Down! A Closer Look at Family Court. It will look at the family court system’s impact on men and women and the children of divorce.

Why make this film? Filmmaker Vede Seeterram says he wants to know the truth.

“I have heard many stories from people who were children of divorce, and while some believe the family court system was fair to them, there are many others who believe the system is broken, heartless, and in serious need of reform,” he said.

Seeterram says he has long heard stories of what some people go through in family court, both men and women, and always suspected it must be a terrible ordeal. Now in his 40s, Seeterram has seen friends and family go through family court, and says, “I’m motivated, now more than ever, to do something about it.”

Family court is big business

How so? He brings up incentives. The fact is, many people  – a whole industry – profit from family conflict and divorce. Family court attorneys are the most obvious of these. Their businesses are built on conflict and families that fail. But beyond them are the investigators of various kinds, and even judges and social workers. Family disharmony is big business, an industry worth an estimated $50 billion per year. How this industry sees its customers and chooses to treat them – and the most innocent, the children of divorce – may be less and less a product of human decency and more a product of other motives.

Man Down! A Closer Look at Family Court’s goal is to raise about $192,000 U.S. (approximately $250,721 Canadian) to shoot and investigate, in at least 2 countries, the United States and Canada, how the rules of these family court systems came about, what effects have they had on families and our societies, what can be done about them, who really gains from family court, and above all, who really loses? Is it mothers, fathers, children, or perhaps all three, who end up losing? Seeterram believes this film will spur reforms.

His aim is to first finish the film and then enter into distribution with Netflix or Amazon Prime so that it gains as much exposure as possible. “Compassion for all is a disservice to none,” he says. “That’s the goal of Man Down! A Closer Look at Family Court.”