Assessing other people’s problems makes me cherish family life
Wang Xin, 26, a social worker in Fujian province who conducts pretrial surveys.
Istarted conducting family-related surveys for the Intermediate People’s Court in Sanming, Fujian, two years ago, when reforms were launched to improve domestic dispute hearings.
When the court gives permission for a survey to be conducted, my team spends 10 to 15 days collecting data. We submit a written report to the court before the case is heard.
As part of the survey, I visit the residential communities and workplaces of people involved in domestic cases, such as those wishing to divorce, to understand their family background. I talk with their neighbors to find out how the family members get along with each other.
I also visit the school the litigants’ children attend to find out which party spends the most time looking after them. The survey is necessary because most people complain about the other party in a lawsuit and never admit their own mistakes. Our job is to provide an independent report to help them figure out the source of their conflict and how to solve it.
The survey also provides reference material for the judges, indicating whether the marriage should continue and if the case can be resolved through mediation.
We try to determine the crux of a domestic dispute because some couples refuse to explain matters when they come to court, which doesn’t help to root out the source of the problem.
In October, I visited a woman whose husband ignored repeated requests for a divorce. Unlike some litigants who are talkative, the woman, a kindergarten teacher, looked frightened when we met.
She was still reluctant to talk with me even after I showed her my identity card, social worker certificate and the permission form signed by the court. However, the next day, when she felt safe, she told me her husband had been violent toward her for a long time but she hadn’t asked for help.
She hadn’t mentioned the domestic violence when she submitted her divorce papers, because she was ashamed. Her husband tried to hide the problem during the survey.
My team wrote an assessment and suggested that the court should end the marriage and give the mother custody of the couple’s 2-year-old daughter.
I have conducted more than 20 surveys in the past two years. All the cases have taught me to cherish my family life and maintain good relationships with people.
I have occasionally been threatened by emotional litigants via text messages or phone calls, but I try to understand their motivation and improve my work by protecting their privacy.