Family courts are long-overdue at making non-adversarial divorce methods–like collaborative divorce–mandatory for most families before they use the court system (except for emergencies such as domestic violence restraining orders). I recently wrote an Op-Ed piece on this subject for the San Francisco Chronicle, the 13th largest newspaper in the United States. It was published in December 2020, stating that with COVID-19 and reduced court access, the time is right for this change.
I explained that there should be a 3-step process: First, give the parties negotiation skills, such as the online New Ways for Families® method developed by our High Conflict Institute. Then, require families to attempt to resolve their divorces in non-adversarial methods. Then, if all else fails, use the family courts for the few remaining cases, so that the judges can really take the time to understand what is going on. Most of today’s court cases will settle with this type of requirement. As I said in the Op-Ed piece:
Family courts should require most of the parties to make serious efforts to resolve their separation and divorce decisions (parenting, finances, etc.) in non-adversarial processes, such as in professional family mediation or negotiation with collaborative professionals, before turning to a judge. When required to overcome their high-conflict urges, most of these cases can be resolved through these non-adversarial processes. (Emphasis added)
For the full Op-Ed piece:
Domestic stress during COVID shows need for change in family courts – SFChronicle.com
Bill Eddy is a lawyer, therapist and mediator, who was trained in collaborative practice in 2004 and handled several collaborative divorces before he co-founded High Conflict Institute in 2008 and focused on training and developing methods for handling high conflict cases. He is the author or co-author of several books, including BIFF for Co-parent Communication, and the developer of the New Ways for Families® skills-training method for divorcing parents.