Continuing the Conversation…
– Honorable Judge RomÃ¡n in response to Bill Eddy’s article in Issue 4:
I applaud Mr. Eddy’s article for continuing the dialogue I sought to initiate. With a no less than 74% self-represented litigant rate (at least in Sacramento County) in family law, Mr. Eddy strikes at a core issue that compels the bench and bar’s attention. A second issue he astutely observes is the delay in properly identifying the high conflict case. My only remaining comment in terms of the solutions he provides is the litigant lack of resources. Prior to arriving in family law I was our court’s Mental Health Court judge and attempted to apply collaborative justice methods; however, it became readily apparent that while resources abounded in the community, my parties’ ability to afford counseling was wanting. In addition, notwithstanding our nation’s growing awareness re mental health, too many family law litigants were counselor adverse because of the potential for stigmatization employed by the other party. While I am departing family law to become our court’s Domestic Violence judge, I do hope the dialogue continues and that I can be a part of it. The collateral effect of failure in family law permeates too many other areas of jurisprudence.
– Bill Eddy in response to Judge RomÃ¡n
I really appreciate Judge RomÃ¡n’s feedback and empathy for these litigants. While he mentions that parents in need of counseling avoid it because of stigmatization by the other party, the method we have been implementing (known as "New Ways for Families") succeeds because both parents are ordered into at the beginning of the case and it is short-term. There is no need for delay in identifying cases in need – their contested request for restricted parenting orders is the biggest indicator it will become a high-conflict case. Unfortunately, he is correct that the lack of resources for these families remains a major problem. I look forward to further discussion of these issues.