University of Denver

Courts and Communities Helping Families in Transition Arising from Separation or Divorce

Founding Executive Director
Clerk of Court, Denver Juvenile Court
Sidney and Walter Siben Distinguished Professor of Law, Maurice A. Deane School of Law, Hofstra University
Maconda Brown O'Connor Professor, Smith College School for Social Work

This white paper describes the premises and policies for the Honoring Families Initiative (HFI). The goal of the paper and, more broadly, of HFI’s projects, is to offer new models of service delivery in order to facilitate an informed national dialogue on how courts and communities can better meet the needs of parents and children that arise from the transitions of separation or divorce.

The purpose of the paper is to describe the rationale for HFI’s mission and to invite others interested in the welfare of children and families to engage in dialogue and collaborate with HFI. It begins with an overview of the core functions of the family court, fact finding and creating and enforcing orders, and the important social purposes they serve for separating and divorcing parents and the community. It then describes legal and social trends for families, courts, and communities that call for a fundamental reconsideration of the support that communities provide for separating and divorcing families. It emphasizes the important need that separating and divorcing families have to plan for the future of their children through non-adversarial processes such as mediation, early neutral evaluation, and parent education. Finally, it proposes a set of principles that frame an action plan in which we invite further stakeholder discussion and input.

The Family Court Review published responses to this paper in October 2014, and can be downloaded above as supplements.