University of Maryland Carey School of Law
University of Baltimore School of Law
University of Baltimore Family Law Association
Maryland Law Review
MSBA Alternative Dispute Resolution Section
Innovations in Family Dispute Resolution
Friday, November 13 * 8:15 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Over the past 25 years, there has been an important shift in the way the legal system approaches and resolves family disputes. This shift has replaced the traditional, law-oriented adversary model with a more holistic, therapeutic and interdisciplinary regime -- a regime that values collaboration over confrontation and that seeks to address both legal and non-legal issues.
While the primary focus of reforms to date has been the courts, this conference will explore the possibility of using community based resources and alternative dispute resolution methods to address the many issues facing families today.
8:15 - 8:45 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:45 - 9:00 a.m. Welcome and Introduction
9:00 - 9:45 a.m. Opening Keynote
Melinda Taylor, M.S.L.A., Center for Out-of-Court Divorce
10:00 - 11:15 a.m. Panel #1: Enhancing Access to Justice for Families Through New Lawyering Models
Our current, court-based approach to family justice does not meet the needs of the families and children it is meant to serve. Most family disputants are unrepresented and must navigate a family justice system designed by lawyers for lawyers. This panel will review the shortcomings of court-based approaches to family conflict and recommend solutions, drawing on research and analysis from Jane Murphy and Jana Singer's new book, Divorced From Reality: Rethinking Family Dispute Resolution (NYU Press 2015).
11:30 - 12:45 p.m. Panel #2: Adoption Contracts and Non-binding "Deals"
Maryland, like half of the states, treats post-adoption contact agreements (PACAs) as legally binding, subject to the child’s best interests. Yet day-to-day details of PACAs as well as many agreements to provide living expenses or even maternity clothes to birth mothers remain mere “deals” – non-binding. This panel explores the roles of agreements about birth certificate access, agency mediation of PACA issues, and an argument for expanded freedom of contract based on Martha Ertman’s book Love’s Promises: How Formal & Informal Promises Shape All Kinds of Families (Beacon Press 2015).
12:45 - 2:00 p.m. Lunch and Keynote
Greetings: Dean Ronald Weich, University of Baltimore School of Law
Keynote : Margaret Klaw, Berner, Klaw & Watson in Philadelphia & author of Keeping it Civil: The Case of the Prenup and the Porsche & Other True Accounts from the Files of a Family Lawyer (Algonquin Books 2013).
2:00 - 3:15 p.m. Panel #3: Child Access Mediation in Maryland: What Works and Why
This panel will present findings from the ground-breaking Maryland study assessing the costs and benefits of ADR and effectiveness of mediator strategies. The study was the first in the field to combine data from observation of mediator interventions during mediations, surveys of parties, and court file review into a rigorous regression analysis. The panel will describe the study, an overview of the landscape of ADR in Maryland, and attempt to answer the question “what works in child access mediation?”
3:35 - 4:45 p.m. Panel #4: Restorative Justice in Intimate Partner Violence
While restorative justice has been touted as a promising alternative to legal intervention in a number of areas, few scholars or activists have been willing to consider restorative justice as an option in matters involving intimate partner violence. In Leigh Goodmark's book, A Troubled Marriage: Domestic Violence and the Legal System, she examines the possibilities of using restorative processes in the context of intimate partner violence. During this panel, practitioners and activists will explore the arguments for and against implementing restorative processes in the context of domestic violence and the practical and theoretical problems such projects might raise.
4:45 - 5:00 p.m. Wrap Up and Next Steps
Jana Singer, Professor, Maryland Carey Law