Here at Researching Reform, we have always felt that the best way forward for families in divorce is not going to court but courting one another to listen, and this very astute team of lawyers, who can obviously see what the future of family law is going to look like, are already making it happen.
But it’s not happening here. Our justice system hasn’t quite understood what works and what doesn’t, yet. No, the magic is happening in New Orleans.
Embracing collaborative law in the truest sense, families are guided through their divorce with a team of coaches. In New Orleans that means everyone agreeing not to go to court, having a mental health professional for each parent, a financial consultant and if there is a child, a child specialist. And whilst we’re not mad about the touchy-feely ‘talking to a mat’ role play nor the idea that the child specialist keeps poking their nose into the child’s life ‘well beyond’ the divorce process, these are the sorts of models we need to be thinking about.
Our own view has always been that the government should offer independent accountants for the finances (leaving that sort of thing to lawyers is a little like asking a ballerina to break dance), coaches for the parents (and no, not mental health professionals, we Brits still like to solve our problems minus medication, by and large) and a child coach (not specialist), but only for children who are old enough to talk and want to do so, not for babies (to us, there is something rather patronising about involving child specialists in divorces unless the child is at risk).
Yes, if the government want to get it right, free up the courts and help families stay together, we feel that these First Aid Units are the key, the answer, the Holy Grail. And the infrastructure is already out there. And no, we don’t mean New Orleans……. we mean right here, in the UK.