Enlightened Family Justice Institute
Transforming Family Courts
Healing Human Conflicts         Preserving Families

What We Intend To Do

VISION: Transform family courts so that they help heal the conflicts that bring families into the justice system. GOAL: Parents who separate are in a process of realigning the structure of the family. The family continues to exist in the face of divorce or separation of unmarried parents. Family courts can be redesigned to help separating parents and family members move through family realignment in a healthy way. Family courts can adopt services and procedures intended to optimize the healthy development of children by bringing greater peace and harmony into the lives of their adult caretakers.

LOCAL PROJECTS: EFJI seeks to give voice to all stakeholders on how their tax dollars are used to help families heal their conflicts. The design of family court services should not be left to judges and attorneys; the consumers of family court services should have a voice. County government is the best agent for transforming the way family courts handle family conflicts. Most of the cost for trial courts is paid by county tax payers. EFJI intends to design forums for county residents to inform the county government on the values they want family courts to apply. Local family court’s services and procedures will be designed to express local community values. Pilot projects will be used to test and measure benefits realized from innovations in court services.

SCIENCE and WISDOM TRADITIONS: Innovations in family court services will be informed by the best that science has to offer concerning changing human behavior to optimize health and welfare of children. The wisdom traditions of faith based and non-faith based organizations will also be consulted. Children and their families live within a mix of communities. Each community has its own culture and traditions. The courts need to be sensitive to the unique community culture and traditions of the families that come into court. Court service programs will be designed to create a bridge for on-going, continuous two-way flow of information and knowledge among family courts the science community and wisdom/tradition communities.

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT: Life conditions are constantly changing. Economic conditions are always in an up-down cycle. Cultural patterns are always shifting. Knowledge is expanding. Consequently, innovations in court services must be kept alive and fresh. EFJI seeks to design continuous quality improvement into all family court innovation programs.

DISPERSION OF BEST PRACTICES: EFJI seeks to collect best practices in family court services and help introduce those best practices to all family law courts. “Best practices” are those services and practices that have been scientifically measured to produce results in healing human conflict. EFJI intends to develop a template for use by change agents to implement family court best practices in all jurisdictions.

TRAINING & EDUCATION: New ways for helping families heal their conflicts requires education and skills training. EFJI seeks to marshal existing education and training curricula and help design new education and training. Education and training will be needed by professionals who fulfill various roles in innovative services – judges, lawyers, mental health professionals, for example. Education and training will be needed by lay people – parents, administrators, and court staff, for example. People are always required to make services innovations work. The level of education and training achieved will be critical to the success of innovative services.

EFFICIENCY & EFFECTIVENESS: Efficiency means getting the most value for out of resources used. Effectiveness means using resources to get as close as possible to the out comes intended, namely, healing family conflicts while resolving legal disputes. EFJI believes that the current adversarial litigation system of family courts is both inefficient and ineffective. Limited family resources are often exhausted in litigation that leaves everyone a “loser” – especially children – and generates powerful negative emotions that keep conflict alive. EFJI believes that both efficiency and effectiveness may be increased through properly designed court service innovations. The creation and implementation of innovations always requires a front-end investment; and, the potential pay-off in increased efficiency and effectiveness is enormous. In short, families should have to use less of their wealth and the tax payers should experience lower budget out-lays for family courts that provide far better results in bringing peace and harmony to families.