A Professional Restorative Approach Improves Outcomes for Families in Crisis

Attorneys and Counselors alike who wish to center their work on family restoration often find a great void of resources. This blog has offered some including articles on reconciliation, and training attorneys in the art and skill of marital reconciliation, but this is only a beginning. Improving outcomes for families in crisis is a significant goal for many family advocates.

The Freedom 22 Foundation is an important organization that offers considerable resources for like-minded professionals. While they believe that preserving the opportunity for safe marriages to be restored is part of their agenda, they also recognize that many marriages will end and that many children will be born to unwed parents, and sense a parallel responsibility to show parents that they must in all circumstances build peace and cooperation. Consider some of their initiatives:

  1. UpToParents.org and ProudToParent.org helps parents in divorce and paternity cases to build good co-parenting partnerships (see Sample for an example of parents’ finished work from UpToParents.org).
  2. Consulting with courts, bar associations, and other professional groups to build comprehensively cooperative systems of family law that support safety, reduce conflict, build cooperation, and protect the children and healthy relationships in families.
  3. WhileWeHeal.org and NoDivorceToday.org helps separated spouses focus on their mutual interests, respond constructively to their children’s needs, and preserve their opportunity to restore their marriage in the future should they choose to do so.

Their work introduces these resources and explains how they can be implemented by courts, attorneys, mediators, co-parenting educators, and other family professionals to the substantial benefit of families.

Professionals are encouraged to sign up at UpToParents.org as hypothetical parents in divorce. Just a few minutes sampling the workings of the website can convey the power to focus parents’ attention on their children and the future instead of grievances and the past. Furthermore, the “Professionals Corner” link of UpToParents.org includes short articles on the easy and effective use of these websites in a variety of settings. Here are some examples:

1. For early use in all divorce and paternity cases, click HERE.
2. As parents’ preparation for mediation, click HERE.
3. Collaborative attorneys’ use of the websites, click HERE.
4. Collaborative divorce coaches’ use of the websites, click HERE.
5. GALs’ and other evaluators’ use of the websites, click HERE.

Also offered are concepts toward comprehensively cooperative systems of family law to improve the current state systems of family law dispute resolution. Appreciable improvement in outcomes for families in crisis will require improvement in America’s family law systems. To that end, Freedom 22 has developed and consulted widely on a plan for this improvement. More information on this plan and the helpful impact it is having in several jurisdictions is available at the article A Brief Introduction to a Cooperative System of Family Law (with a linked video) available on the “Professionals Corner” link of UpToParents.org. Professionals are also encouraged to download, complete, and even share with us the Survey of Family Law Systems also available on that “Professionals Corner.” We are presently working on a new website where family professionals will be able to assess their family law systems and receive feedback on possible areas of progress.

Most importantly, these resources emphasize that there are alternatives to divorce. Several authorities, including Dr. Robert E. Emery in Renegotiating Family Relationships, have written about the considerable number of parents in divorce cases who say that they actually would prefer not to divorce. While spouses resisting an inevitable divorce present important legal, counseling, and mediation challenges, we also think it is also important to assist separated spouses (or spouses who are about to separate) interested in pursuing a safe reconciliation.

Building on the work of Lee Raffel in Should I Stay or Go?: How Controlled Separation Can Save Your Marriage, Freedom 22 has created WhileWeHeal.org and NoDivorceToday.org to help spouses, especially those with children, to focus on making their separations as constructive as possible and doing no damage to any future wish to reconcile.

These websites address a common problem in these cases, namely that most separations are not supported by the clear thinking and careful planning necessary to meet the needs of either children or parents. These websites give parents the chance to see and address the array of typically overlooked separation tasks. With this help, spouses can find it easier to collaboratively create what is called a “No-Divorce-Today Separation Agreement,” something that can serve as a foundation either to a successful reconciliation or to a more peaceful, cooperative, and child-focused divorce.

While several progressive judges, attorneys, and co-parenting educators have become interested in this protocol, it can be of special interest to mediators and counselors wishing to develop a subspecialty in constructive separations and assistance to couples wishing to rethink divorce. Interested professionals are encouraged to visit NoDivorceToday.org for a fuller understanding of these possibilities. Freedom 22 Foundation has undertaken other projects, including writing, presenting, and sharing with other professionals about good co-parenting classes, conducting and instructing on family mediation, and consulting widely on the specifics of good family law systems.

Judges, bench and bar associations, mediators, co-parenting educators, and others are invited to contact the Freedom 22 Foundation to share ideas on implementing the use of these resources. Family restoration is possible, and professionals can be a major part of that process.

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