Monday, December 3, 2012

Conflict Diagnostics and Improving Kane County Family Court

Ron Ramer (a trained mediator and educator) and I spent the past several years developing a program to help Kane County family court work more efficiently and concentrate resources where needed. We pitched the program to the Kane County Bar Association family law committee. Unfortunately the committee rejected this concept, largely because of a few vocal opponents to change; but it really is an idea worth exploring.

Here is how the program would work. The parties and their attorneys would meet with a facilitator early in the case and the facilitator would “diagnose” the level of conflict. The facilitator would categorize the conflict as follows:

  •    Low conflict: the parties were amicable and could agree on the most of the issue
  •    Medium conflict: the parties were reasonable and while no agreement was imminent, mediation or negotiation would likely conclude the case
  •    High conflict: For any number of reasons, the case was   volatile, very contentious and would need ample court resources

The facilitator, after diagnosing the conflict, would report to the trial judge who could better allocate resources to those in the high conflict range. The added benefit of the program is that the court could insist that the low conflict cases conclude more quickly, freeing up resources to concentrate on the higher conflict families.   By freeing up space on the docket, the court could micromanage the high conflict cases and move those cases through the system more promptly. Children are victims of their parent’s conflict, and accelerating the process will help these children start healing sooner.

It is too bad that the KCBA family law committee did not recognize the importance of this worthy goal.  I am working on article that will discuss this concept in more detail.

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