In case I haven’t made it clear in the past, I’m not in favor of a “get it over and move on” mentality for divorce.
That’s not the same as advocating a paternalistic, we know better imposition of value-based process on married couples looking to separate, of course. Nor condoning disrespect or institutionalized inefficiences rationalized by the notion that spouse who can’t make it work with one another somehow deserve mistreatment.
Unfortunately, this is too often exactly the situation couples experience in municipal service delivery when it comes to divorce.
Earlier this month, efficiency and courtesy in the Norfolk, Virginia, Circuit Court actually made news for being just the opposite of such things.
“A courthouse should serve its public,” read the open to one paragraph in the Virginian-Pilot article we’re talking about here.
It goes on to note that “benefits accrue from a system that handles divorce cases efficiently.” Not that that is in and of itself unique. There’s all sorts of talk of streamlining caseloads and moving things along more expediciously. And God knows the word “efficiently” sells.
Problem is, too many of the lead advocates of efficientlies are insiders, practicioners. And what makes for a benefit to their work is not necessarily what benefits those in need of divorce services.
And just what might that be for the husband or wife facing this sort of marital end? Think respect, support for a sense of control in this “already painful process.”
Yeah. Let’s start with that.
I doubt that the Norfolk approach is perfect. It doesn’t claim to a panacea. So I’m not suggesting that any jurisdiction jump to form some ad hoc task force and deploy ‘em there to bottle some magic so it can be sprinkled onto family courts all across the nation.
Look no further than how well that (did not) work in spreading, and then broadly imposing domestic relations mediation based on California experiments.
What I am saying is that “the system” needs to up its game not merely in terms of efficiency, but in terms of the basis upon which its improved efficiencies are identified, constructed, and measured.