The Center for Families, Children and the Courts, the American Bar Association Section of Family Law, and other leading organizations are collaborating on the multi-year “Families Matter” initiative. The Families Matter mission is “to develop practice methods and approaches to minimize the destructive consequences of the family law legal process on families.”
Professor Babb and symposiums participants discussing the report of one of the small working groups.
Family law cases constitute nearly half – or more – of trial court filings in most jurisdictions, exceeding the filings for either criminal or tort cases. The impact on individuals, communities, and society is profound. People often emerge from a divorce having disposed of a marriage but also having traumatized loved ones, exhausted the family’s resources, and diminished the well-being and self-esteem of their children and of each other.
Following a major national symposium co-sponsored by CFCC and the ABA Section of Family Law in June, 2010, featuring leaders in family justice system reform from a variety of fields, the Families Matter initiative continues to work to identify legal practice methods and approaches that minimize the damaging consequences of family legal proceedings based on an interdisciplinary, holistic, and therapeutic approach.
Since its inception in 2010 as a joint venture, the Families Matter Initiative has expanded to include additional partners:
The growing Families Matter initiative is actively engaged in a number of activities to improve the family justice system:
- CFCC has published a special edition of its nationally recognized newsletter, the Unified Family Court Connection , which includes articles by a number of Families Matter Symposium participants, including Maryland Chief Judge Robert Bell and Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears (ret.) of the Georgia Supreme Court.
- CFCC has completed a final report of the Families Matter Symposium proceedings, which includes recommendations on a number of issues and subjects, such as case management, Unified Family Courts, self-represented litigants, interdisciplinary collaboration, court services, and family violence, among others.
- A Families Matter “promising practices” workgroup is working to develop a vehicle to disseminate promising local, national, and international practices relevant to the practice of family law.
- The Section of Family Law’s Spring 2011 and Fall 2011 CLE Conferences focused on Families Matter. The Fall CLE program included a plenary session moderated by Prof. Barbara Babb, CFCC’s director, on “Promising Practices in Family Law Cases.”
- On July 14, 2010, the Baltimore Sun ran an op-ed co-authored by Professor Barbara Babb and ABA Section of Family Law Chair Mitchell Karpf. The piece, “A more humane vision of family law,” has since been reprinted widely. The article was the direct result of discussions at the Families Matter Symposium.