How does the Community-Based Family Conflict Resolution Program work and how is it fundamentally different from the family court system?

As part of a team, a trained group of community workers and professionals within the Program work collaboratively from the very beginning of a family’s involvement to help the parties find a solution to the issues involved rather than a single judge, mediator or arbitrator as is usually the case when cases go through the family court system. The Program integrates many of the principles and practices found in restorative justice and family group conferencing models but in a more formal and structured manner that can still be integrated into the current family court system.

There are two main components of the Program with the first being mediation and education with consent of the parties and the second being intervention for the more difficult cases where one party refuses to participate in mediation or to engage in any reasonable process intended to eliminate the conflict in the family.

Throughout the process of mediation and intervention, a minimum of three trained workers are assigned to each family case with access to additional professional resources to the team.  To minimize the perception of gender bias there will be at least one male and one female member appointed to the team.

Another significant difference with the Program when compared to the family court system is that most of the mediation and information gathering process is done using up-to-date communication and training technologies such as video conferencing. The use of modern communication technology during the mediation, educational and information gathering component of the Program significantly reduces and in many cases completely eliminates the need for case and settlement conferences at the courthouse and/or numerous meetings in lawyers’ offices thereby significantly reducing the burden on the court system and the financial burden and stress on the parties involved. Information and training in programs such as cooperative parenting are done through video webinar so that parties can be involved from the comfort of their homes or using local resources.