“What is your recommendation about how these people should resolve their conflict?”
Imagine if that was the question that a Family Law Judge asked the amicus appointed in a case.
An amicus is focused on meeting the needs of the children the subject of the suit. The amicus can act objectively and does not necessary act for the personal needs or wishes of anyone. An amicus has tremendous power, whether they know it or not. In the past amicus have worked within the conflict model and have accepted their role in the litigation process. Training amicus’ to resolve disputes using the interdisciplinary approach offers a game changing opportunity to ending family law disputes.
An experienced family law attorney has access and normally, a working relationship with skilled psychologists, psychiatrists, child therapists, etc. in their community. An experience family law attorney sees the reasons WHY the parents can not resolve their conflict. It is these attorneys that should first be trained to use the interdisciplinary approach to help facilitate an end to divorce conflict. New attorney’s will need training to understand the importance of mental health professionals.
There may be many reasons why the parties can not resolve disagreements by themselves. In the case of young parents, there may simply be a question of immaturity. Divorce clients may be trapped in the adversarial process due to the nature of the attorneys involved. A certain percentage of divorce cases will have mental health aspects that will need to be addressed.
Amicus’ may want to have the parties and their attorneys sit down for an informal settlement conference, or mediation. The amicus may refer the parties to a mental health professional to clarify a particular issue and obtain neutral third party recommendations. The amicus referral avoids the normal “appointments” that mental health professionals are given by virtue of a court order. The referral gives the mental health professionals greater flexibility, as it avoids the limitations put in place when they are appointed to a given role.
The amicus redirects the parties and refocuses their energies on solving their problems. If the amicus can convince the parties to jump on the “team based” approach to resolving their problem, he or she has directed the parties away from the courthouse and away from conflict. In my opinion, Amicus’ have the best chance of implementing the interdisciplinary approach to resolving family law disputes.