will be a live consultation (via whatever technology
has replaced Skype) with an FDR expert to help
parents consider whether the assessment results are
consistent with their perceived needs. The consultant
will be identified based on the assessment results and
will therefore be qualified to address concerns specific
to each party.
• Mediation will continue to occupy a space on the FDR continuum and marketplace, but it may become
vulnerable to the growing DIY culture. Divorcing
parents who are collaborative and on good terms might
previously have engaged a mediator to facilitate the
negotiation process and lead them through issues they
may not have known to address. In the future, these
issues, and reliable resources needed to understand
them, will be readily available online. When specific
questions arise, the necessary advice will be quickly
available from somewhere on the cloud, which will
facilitate resolution without the need for professional
intervention. This will be a trickle-over effect from
ongoing access to justice efforts that will generally
make the legal system easier to navigate for laypeople.
• Discrete task representation, or unbundling legal services, will grow dramatically as a result of the need
for affordable legal services and the number of law
school graduates who struggle to find employment.
This will allow quick, easy and affordable access to legal
information for parents involved in FDR processes.
• A mental health role analogous to unbundled legal
services will exist for those who need child-related
decision making support. Therapists will offer
personalized advice (based on parents’ description or a
meeting with a child) about specific family and divorce
related issues that enable parents to identify and focus
on the needs of their children.
• FDR professionals will adapt their practices as they work with parents, consulting a dynamic menu of
options that responds to the evolving needs of the
parties for information, advice, recommendations,
mental health or legal consultations as they work
their way through the dispute resolution process.
Enterprising professionals will form collectives that
enable parties to move seamlessly from one process
and practitioner to the other if their needs change.
• Lack of funding for family justice will mean that court service agencies will be repurposed for those with
limited means, with processes facilitated by court
staff that use the online information and some of the
discrete services noted above.
While the scenario above seems plausible, given the challenges
our family justice systems face it could all just as easily fall apart. I
have never been particularly adept at predicting the future and, as
noted above, I certainly would have misfired on the last 25 years.
That said, for the last two decades, working for the Association of
Family and Conciliation Courts, I have occupied a particularly good
perch from which to observe the development of FDR, both as it
has occurred and retrospectively. So while the specific trajectory is
not necessarily clear, there are a few things I can predict with some
confidence. One of them is that it will not fall apart. In addition: • There will always be multiple pressures that impact he FDR process for parties to the disputes, service
providers and related institutions, such as courts or
community based agencies. There will be financial
constraints, emotional and psychological challenges,
time pressures and simple and straightforward
differences in values and opinion. No one place, person
or process will serve as magic bullet for all of them.
• There will continue to be a deeply committed cadre of professionals who dedicate enormous time and
energy working toward expanding and improving
the family dispute resolution process. They will have
different values and ideas, so their vision of the future
(and sometimes of the present) will not always align,
and that will be a good thing.
• The different values and ideas of FDR professionals, while creating some friction along the way, will foster a
continually evolving set of FDR practices that first and
foremost meet the needs of the family members and
children that we are here to serve.
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