We don't want lawyers, courts and authorities — we need Case Managers

By Michael Knight

Wednesday 25 November 2009

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Ideally speaking, when Mum and Dad want to Separate or think they do, they shouldn't need anybody outside of themselves to work out their affairs. However if they do, a friendly and neutral third party like a Case Manager can be all that is required to provide some guidance, wisdom and clarity about the issues at hand, discuss options and assist with relevant services and support.

It really isn't that hard, yet when you look around there are no Government systems in place that cater for families like this, at least not in Australia. Maybe there have been attempts at this approach however nothing exists today. Why?

By implementing a non-harmful system much of the current volatility and destruction to families would not be present like it is today. If you look at who profits from family breakdown, you will have your answer.

A system that encourages and prevents the already strained relationship between a Mum and a Dad to deteriorate even further, is what's needed.

Unfortunately, our present culture of abnormal stress levels, expectation and looking externally at others and things for our source of happiness, often turns the slightest parental feud into the most torrid of emotions igniting a huge power imbalance between the parents, invoking the legal system and all its might, causing a negative fallout that would give even the cold war a run for it's money.

So what's really the best fix for families in this day and age?

Well, we've seen the legal system generally do a hack job of families Separating over the last thirty plus years, with many children of that generation showing some form of psychological disorder now as adults. Maybe if this is all we have known and we all did our best, no one could be blamed.

However, I take the view our society is a little bit smarter than that now, maturing as a nation to that of Eastern and other cultures that value the togetherness of family above almost everything, it's that important. So ok, our Westernised world has been a bit slow to catch on — perhaps our preconditioning from warring ancestors, greed or immaturity, I'm not quite sure.

However, what is clear is we are overdue for some new ideas and a rethink to save current and future families from suffering a similar demise as have many families before them. Unless of course you think spawning mentally ill adults who are deprived of a proper childhood and upbringing with their finances from their estate heavily depleted, if not all together is a good practice.

Conveying the notion to parents and Governments alike, that Separating needs to be blanketed in a more understanding, congenial, peaceful and fair way with tolerance and services in place, allowing for predictable human emotion and reaction, seems to be proving more difficult than first thought.

I sometimes think a five year old pulling a tooth from a hippopotamus would be an easier challenge in contrast to altering the mindset of the general population who trundle off to lawyers and courts without proper care and consideration of the possible effects.

But alas, we shall carry on with the torch of hope in search of the new frontier where families can Separate in a more complaisant manner.

One such push would be to implement the good old government case manager through pre-existing welfare agencies, with little restructuring needed just more jobs for people. Not a bad thing.

Case managers would be the first and only contact for a parent wishing to Separate, although the usual perceived prejudicial processes would be in place. The managers would be the central hub for Separating parents with the main emphasis on keeping family matters low key, void of conflict and bias to any family member. Their role would be solution based assisting families to work through all the issues in front of them in a caring and respectful way, allowing time for people to adapt to a new set of circumstances that more often than not, is foisted upon them by surprise.

These managers would wear the hats of advisors, mediators and negotiators guiding parents to relevant services to help with whatever the family needs, assisting all family members with the transition into a new workable family structure for all. They would not make decisions as such, but rather mediate with both parents to find amicable solutions, giving both parents greater control over their lives, children and finances. An arbitrator or court could be found at the very end of this process if ever needed, but this would be the extreme exception, not the norm. This new common sense way of resolving family breakdown would truly be a win solution for all family members and the community as a whole.

Parents having difficulty with this peaceful approach could enlist the help of many government or private services that would help he or she with the change if needed, however those parents who were wanting to battle would be prevented from doing so.

If there were criminal issues of any kind these would be subject to thorough investigation. Gone will be the days of false allegations to gain unfair advantages for a bigger slice of children, finances, with more power and control over others.

With no external intervention from authorities and a toxic legal system, families would no doubt make a simpler transition into a new family structure and a better way of life, in contrast to the ghastly side effects many broken families experience today from the Separation practices of yester year.

We all have good inside us, it just needs the opportunity to come out —

With love, kindness and peace

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    By: Barry T from NSW, Aust on February 8, 2010 @ 12:20 am
    Great ideas Michael but who will listen??? Hopefully parents thats who! i think we hav to stop looking external to ourselves and expecting governments and the like will do much. You aer definitely right we need to look inside of ourselves as this is where the problems lie.. Its hard work as I have been on this path for sometime so I do know and can appreciate the long hard road however its the only path my friends.. BT
    By: suzzie from VIC, australia on November 25, 2009 @ 6:11 am
    I like the term 'case manager'.keep it.I hope it takes off for all children (+non adversarial parents) caught in the court racket and suffering as their parents are preoccupied.
    One person in a couple seeks court intervention, and it is always about power and control.These people wont negotiate
    By: Nick from Epping from Victoria, Australia on November 25, 2009 @ 1:59 am
    Yes, a new system is what is needed! I think if people had an option, the majority would try to resolve their problems without lawyers. Especially if there are children involved, the current conflict system is not only useless, but resource sucking and outright damaging. If there are no children, by all means let the couple slug it out in court and with lawyers, if they wish to. Michael, I think your suggestion is brilliant, so let's think about how this could be generated and implemented. Probably too late for us who have been through the wringer, but for all the others, and for the next generation.
    By: simon from VIC, Aust on November 25, 2009 @ 1:42 am
    Yes but there is too much money generated by the conflict (adversarial) system. First you need to get the media to support the idea. They won't because their content comes from the Vested Interests. I am working on a PR strategy to address this.
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