2040 VisionAustraliacourt reform

We can do without combative family contests

Family lawyers call the first Monday of January ‘Divorce Day’ as divorce enquiries boom. Family lawyer, Caroline Elliot, says “Divorce Day is not a happy day and certainly not one celebrate.” Two Wishes CEO, David Curl, explained in The Australian why we can do without combative family contests. Read his full article here.

He writes that: “Divorce is one of the most stressful times in the lives of all who experience it … a moment of greatly increased risk for kids who sill often find themselves, suddenly and for months or years to come, without the two functioning parents they’ve relied upon.”

“For other such moments of human frailty and vulnerability,” he points out, “our society has put in place scaffolding and systems of support”. And we are “less judgemental and more compassionate.” This is: “Not so with divorce.”

We all know this, so why do we need a reminder? For separating couples, it’s normal to take sides, to hear other people’s horror stories, to act first in order to get the upper hand. And, of course, to “go get a lawyer”.

The solutions are not rocket science.

Dr Curl summarizes the problem that needs a better solution: “Instead of the support that every separating parent and child needs, the best-known, often easiest, pathway is an adversarial court system that turns every family separation into a terrifying, quasi-criminal affair.” Or at least sets the tone, classing any other option as “an alternative”.

Divorce and separation .. don’t belong in a court of law. This is a public health crisis that can be addressed by investing in earlier, safer and more cost-effective measures than any family law system.

David Curl

“The solutions are not rocket science. But they require all of us to stop taking sides. … Measures such as well-targeted education of children, parents and society at large; earlier health interventions and support for families; clever apps and online tools that help kids and parents navigate separation and foster healthy relationship during and after separation; quality conciliation; and, where necessary, an arbitration process instead of hostile court proceedings. Measures that give families a chance of reinventing themselves, rather than guaranteeing their destruction.”

This call for a better system is growing around the world. So we can do without combative family contests.