Divorce Corp: Film Review

Although too sensationalistic to be entirely convincing, this cautionary doc could well scare off prospective brides and grooms. 

Joe Sorge's documentary examines the dysfunctional nature of America's family court system.

“The single biggest reason for divorce in this country is marriage.”

That’s one of the less-than-revelatory statements heard in Divorce CorpJoe Sorge’s scattershot but occasionally scarily convincing examination of the American family court system that generates some $50 billion a year. This is not surprising, considering that we’re also informed that the average divorce in the U.S. costs $50,000 and that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Of course, the marriage rate itself could be reduced significantly if enough people could be encouraged to watch this documentary before saying “I do.”

As per usual, a procession of talking heads testifies to the injustices of the system, including a private investigator who drives a Rolls-Royce thanks to his endless bounty of lucrative cases. Among those heard from are lawyers, judges, law professors, aggrieved spouses (mostly male) and such ringers as celebrity divorce lawyer Gloria Allred.

The very idea of our family court system, which generally includes no juries and no right to counsel, is called into question via a series of horrific anecdotes, the veracity of which, naturally, is hard to determine. We are informed that judges are frequently perturbed by people who choose to serve as their own attorneys, and that upon leaving the bench they frequently segue into lucrative law practices at the very firms whose cases they were previously deciding.

This is contrasted at length with the divorce system in Scandinavia, where people can apparently get unhitched without entering into gladiatorial legal combat and with their finances still intact.

Although the film, which is narrated by Dr. Drew Pinsky, makes many convincing points -- such as describing the jailing of people who fail to make their alimony or child custody payments as the modern-day equivalent of debtor’s prison -- it relies too heavily on shock value rather than solid facts. While such cases as one involving a court-appointed child custody evaluator who posted lewd pictures of himself online or another featuring the horrifying video of a family court judge savagely beating his wife are luridly fascinating, they have little to do with the bigger picture.

Director: Joe Sorge

Screenwriters: James D. Scurlock, Philip Sternberg, Blake Harjes, Joe Sorge

Producers: Philip Sternberg, James D. Scurlock

Narrator: Dr. Drew Pinsky

Editor: Blake Harjes

Composers: Chris McClure, Andy Sorge

No rating, 93 minutes