Thank you Judge Bruce Peterson of Minnesota, for providing alternatives to what could be done differently in Family Law. Clearly what we are doing now isn’t working. Not for anyone, including those who function within the system itself.
But the harsh reality is that the 260 billion dollar industry known as Family Law doesn’t need replacement, it needs fixing. Nor would it be possible even within one generation to replace the entire Family Law Court System.
For replacement would need to occur in approximately 19,429* cities, 3,069 counties, 50 states, and 14 US territories. Not including an almost incalculable amount of money, time, coordination and effort on all levels of government, city, state and federal and private citizens. The words impossible come to mind here.
Additionally, while I support mediation and collaborative law, the reality is, that if mediation were effective in eliminating disputes, we would have long ago closed civil courts, as being obsolete, where medication is utilized now. But as with the other scenarios of law, not all cases can be resolved through mediation and the courts are necessary to the process of contracts, disputes and decisions, including Family Law.
Does that mean that we should give up on doing a better job, or that the system can’t be improved, not at all. As Judge Bruce Peterson pointed out, “a large percentage of our population now undergoes divorce.” So the need for solutions in Family Law is not decreasing, it is increasing.
The courts tried bringing in more resources to help judges make better decisions, obtain more information, do a better job at the onset and later with issues; minors counsel, parenting evaluators, special masters, or parenting coordinators as they are referred to now, mandated mediation, and I use that term loosely. One fifty minute session before a court date hardly qualifies as mediation. Child and family investigator, or CFI, forensic psychologists, accountants, certified divorce financial accountants, counselors, parenting instructors, private mediators, therapists for children and adults, public courts, private courts and a host of other experts.
Taken collectively, these experts have not made the system function any more effectively, just the opposite. It has only added to the burden bore by the divorcing parties. Breaking families with and without children, financially, emotionally and physically so that there is rarely anything left afterwards to live on or function on emotional for the family or the children.
Are there exceptions, has the system worked with some of these resources, some of the time, yes. But that is not enough. We need a process that works not as an exception, but as the rule, for everyone. Or, that should be the goal, at least.
In many cases, these additional resources, have also acted to escalate the hostility and devastation faced by divorcing couples, which is carried over, certainly, into the next marriage and divorce. It is reflected in the behavior of the next divorce. As individuals come out of the gates swinging, and swinging hard to ensure that they are not taken advantage of again by the process and seek the upper hand early in the divorce.
It was not the intention of the courts or the experts but it is the result none the less. Truly the courts were seeking solutions with the best intentions with the worst results.
A retired law enforcement officer, with nearly 24 years of service, I began researching the issues of Family Law after identifying that divorce may now be responsible for 25% of all crime in this country.
Homicides, suicides, kidnappings, domestic violence, child abuse, violation of court orders, violation of restraining orders, stalking and more. To put just one of those numbers into perspective that is approximately 3,600-4,000 homicides a year related to Family Law.
Can I say conclusively, that 25% is the correct percentage. No, it is a best guess if you will, because law enforcement does not track causative factors of crime. However, based on other factors, 25% may in fact be too conservative and the actual percentage much higher.
The good news and yes there is some. Is that there are solutions, and they are not as difficult as one would have thought. As opposed to adding new or additional legislation, or adding more layers of procedures or additional personnel at the expense of the courts/individuals divorce. Quite the opposite actually.
Solutions revolve around better business practices, also know as expert practices. Expert practices are routinely utilized in large corporations to improve production, cut costs, run more effectively and increase profit. All principals that we should be applying to the Family Law Court System.
Having said this, however, it took ten years of research, another five to develop. Research began with a fresh eye on the issues of Family Law and throwing out a wider net of the scope and impact, of divorce. Examining what happens and when, so that we could trace the issues back to their point of origin. Allowing us to identify, disrupt and change what we do and when to decide how could “fix” many of the issues. Eventually this process will allow more suggestions /experiments such as those offered by Judge Peterson to be tried, as we become more efficient and budget deficits are reduced.
Utilization of expert business practices identified will assist judicial officers in closing loopholes, simplifying court orders, identify scheduling conflicts in advance of the situation. Scheduling conflicts occur when the courts rule to place the children in the custody of both parents on the same date. Conflicts frequently occur when holidays, a child’s birthday or some other date, fall on the same date, as the custody of the other parent and vice versa.
Better business practices will also address/make clear what is expected by which individual, when and on what dates. Increase preparation of the individuals going through the divorce process, so that they are better prepared as to what decisions are necessary in the process both before, during and after the divorce and with their attorney. Reduce violation of court orders, reduce court appearances in some cases by as much as 70%, reduce backlog, deficits and run in effect more efficiently.
No, this is not a fairy tale. It is real. Watch for future releases by Custody Calculations on development of expert business practices and learn how you can be a participant in the change, “It only took 2,000 people to change the Family Law Court System.”
In the meantime take advantage of our coaching and seminars, titled Divorce Coach, and Divorce Boot Camp. Visit our web site CustodyCalculations.com or call us for a free no obligation consultation at 702-675-5120. You can also read about us on CustodyCalculations.Wordpress.com Or follow us on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, find us on You Tube and My Space.
To read the full article written by Judge Bruce Peterson copy and paste the below link into your browser.
* Article, Time, Perhaps, to Get Courts Out of Divorce Star Tribune, July 12, 2012 http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/16228 6176.html?refer=y
* 2002 Reported by The National League of Cities, municipal governments in the US.