Divorce Reform Takes Center Stage in Special “IAALS Issue” of Family Court Review

Dona Playton Dona Playton
Associate Professor and Director, Family and Child Legal Advocacy Clinic, University of Wyoming College of Law
February 6, 2017

The January 2017 edition of Family Court Review is dedicated to the Honoring Families Initiative’s Family Bar Summit: Shaping the System for the Families We Serve. The Summit, held in November 2015, brought together national thought leaders from diverse professional organizations to identify obstacles to serving children and families in separation and divorce matters and explore opportunities for meaningful change. Participants joined us from the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, the American Bar Association Section of Family Law, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, and other national groups.

The two-day Summit engaged these practitioners as active participants in the movement to improve the system for resolving family conflict. Various themes emerged from the interactive conversation, along with a series of recommendations for reshaping divorce and separation processes to support better outcomes for children and provide greater accessibility, efficiency, and fairness for all parties. Last year, IAALS published these recommendations alongside a toolkit for jurisdictions interested in hosting similar dialogues nationwide.

The Summit report—The Family Law Bar: Stewards of the System, Leaders of Change—has now been republished as the capstone piece in this dedicated edition of Family Court Review. The journal also features articles by Summit attendees on topics that were discussed during the Summit or that build on themes that emerged from the capstone report:

  • The Family Lawyer's Role in Preventive Legal and Conflict Wellness by Forrest S. Mosten & Lara Traum
  • Can this Relationship Be Saved? The Legal Profession and Families in Transition by Pauline H. Tesler
  • Another Look at the Need for Family Law Education Reform: One Law School's Innovations by Barbara A. Babb
  • Oregon's Informal Domestic Relations Trial: A New Tool to Efficiently and Fairly Manage Family Court Trials by William J. Howe & Jeffrey E. Hall
  • The Family Law Bar, the Interdisciplinary Resource Center for Separating and Divorcing Parents, and the “Spark to Kindle the White Flame of Progress” by Andrew Schepard, Marsha Kline Pruett & Rebecca Love Kourlis
  • From Talk to Action: How the IAALS Summit Recommendations Can Reshape Family Justice by Natalie A. Knowlton
  • Low-Income and Never-Married Families: Service and Support at the Intersection of Family Court and Child Support Agency Systems by Jacquelyn L. Boggess
  • A Survey of Beliefs and Priorities About Access to Justice of Family Law: The Search for A Multidisciplinary Perspective by Peter Salem & Michael Saini

IAALS is grateful to AFCC and the Family Court Review for highlighting the important work of the Summit and its attendees, and for drawing additional attention to the role of the family law bar in effectively responding to the needs of families today and in the future. As stewards of the family justice system and leaders of change, family law attorneys have an ongoing responsibility to foster continuous system improvement. The ideas presented in these articles represent a monumental step forward in that process.

All the articles are available here for review.

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