My Blog

My blog is meant to inform but its primary purpose is not to be informative. It is about the law but it is not solely about the law but also about those places the law does not go. The law is the platform from which I dive. My blog is about my opinions but is not primarily about my opinions since I often temper these to the subject matter on hand, not to mention the imagined audience. Quite often when I open a subject which is related to the law for discussion, I find myself in a place I never meant to be, or to go, as if the subject takes on a life of its own. I write articles based on what I do for a living, and I am a family lawyer, but of course that is not all I am. I find that when I engage with a subject, and use writing to express my thoughts, that quite often the journey is more interesting than the end and that what I thought I was writing about is not what I wrote about at all. This seems to me to be a metaphor for life. I write, therefore, to throw some light into the dark, to increase my understanding and by extension hopefully, other people’s understanding of what often seems incomprehensible, to enliven the dull so my spirit does not sag and to throw some humour at what is often deeply sad so that I can, or maybe, dare I say hopefully, “we”, can gain perspective. I doubt I succeed but the effort is honest.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Collaborate? Or Not Collaborate ...

The collaborative model, particularly the full interdisciplinary model, is such a fantastic way for families to handle themselves in separation or divorce that it amazes me that disputing couples in Ireland are not breaking down the doors of collaborative professionals to find out more about this. There are many reasons for this, I suspect, among them, the large number of people who think it is too good to be true, it flies in the face of human nature, people want the row and all that sort of rubbish. Of course, there will always be some who want the row, no doubt about that, but the vast majority of people who come in the door of my office will identify to me in that all important preliminary consultation that they are not out for blood and that they want to be fair and civilised. However, it seems to me that a much more formidable hurdle for collaboration to overcome in Ireland is the recent nature of our divorce jurisdiction and indeed, the relatively recent nature of our separation jurisdiction. People forget that in Ireland we have only had legislation allowing for judicial separation since 1987 and divorce since 1997. Compared with Britain, Europe and the States that is very new indeed. The other relevant factor, I think, is that our family courts are held “In camera” ie, in private which seems like a blessing, and is in some ways, but it does mean that people for the most part do not know what goes on in courts unlike other countries where there is routine press reporting. The “in camera” rule has the unintended effect of preventing the community becoming knowledgeable about what happens in family court and the recent nature of our divorce jurisdiction has not yet percolated into a large anecdotal body of knowledge within families of just how bad things can get. Maybe as the recession bites deeper people will start to look at the alternatives.They could do an awful lot worse than look at the alternatives of collaboration and mediation.

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