Setting up a triage for family law cases – parent or litigant?
A divorcing parent walks into a courthouse to seek relief. Immediately his or her case is assessed. A few questions asked of this person: 1. Do you have an emergency? 2. Is there family violence? If the answer to these questions was yes these parent’s are rushed into the courtroom, court hearings had and orders would be entered for the safety of the parties/children.
If the person relayed that he did not have an emergency and there was no family violence, litigants and their children would be required to attend a kids first parents second workshop BEFORE litigating over issues of custody. The parties and the parties children would both required to attend a workshop to attend. One for the children, and one for their parent’s.
Parent’s would be briefed on the effects of divorce on kids and provided basic negotiation and communication techniques in dealing with their ex spouses. Kids would be able to share their thoughts and feelings – which would be later shared, en masse, to the parent’s attending the program. Parent’s would also be briefed on the way’s they could settle their lawsuit.
After taking the class, the parties would go back to the courthouse and asked the following question:
What type of parenting structure do you want to share, conflict, parallel or cooperative parenting?
Information as to each parenting structure would be provided to each parent so a clear decision could be made.The parties would be advised of the risks that conflict parenting have on their child, both short term and long term.
If conflict parenting was the persons’ answer the court would structure ways by which the party’s could parent their child. Orders would be in put in place, assessments’ begun and trial dates selected.
If parallel parenting was the persons’ answer, the person would be provided options outside the court’s care. Mediation, parent coordinators, parent facilitators would be used. Parent’s would be given the ability to come up/ascertain a structure by which they could communicate and share time with the child. Parallel parenting would require condition’s prior to the parties ever walking into a court room, to ensure that parties CHOICE, was being safeguarded. Cooperative parenting techniques would be taught to the parent’s wanting to “parallel parent” to ensure that they maintained a healthy coexistence, not sliding into conflict.
If cooperative parenting was the person’s office, the divorce would be reset and parties work through counseling and attorney’s to come up with a scheme to come up and prepare an agreed parenting plan.
The key, or heart to making the triage system would be to assess the parties ability to effectively parent. Court’s taking this type of approach would be better able to manage family law dockets and create a environment that is truly kids first, parents second.