January 13, 2019
There are countless scholarly articles written by brilliant minds about what is wrong with our family court system. I am not an academic or a researcher, but I am a 25 year veteran of how the justice system works for families (or should I say does not work well).
Our Courts continue to be full of people seeking the assistance of judges to help restructure their family. And time and time again, people leave our Court system deeply disappointed with the outcome, frustrated with the constant delays, their tenuous relationship with their former spouse even more damaged than before, and their bank accounts many tens of thousands of dollars lighter as a result of mounting legal fees.
So, the age-old question remains: what isn’t working for families in our Court system? Rarely, if ever, do people feel in the end that “justice has been served”, that their spouse was properly punished for what they did, that they have been heard, that they got the outcome they were looking for.
As I said before, I am not a scholar, so I am not here to provide you with a sophisticated, erudite answer, replete with scientific research to back my hypotheses. What I can share with you is one powerful insight from my work in the trenches of our system:
Our judicial system is designed to seek to remedy past wrongs – payments for broken contracts, punishments for breaking the law, compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident. Trials are about deciding who is right and wrong in a situation.
Restructuring families isn’t about who is right or wrong. It’s about charting the best path forward.
If you need to be heard, if you really want to have a voice, if you want to be the designer of your life going forward, then the answer is not a court room. The answer is mediation.
In mediation, you have the opportunity to make real change. Mediation is about fostering collaboration rather than competition. It is about understanding, creativity, and forward-focussed, enduring agreements.