Welcome to the Maryland Chapter of the National Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, the AFCC, for short. It is our hope that membership in the MarylandChapter in AFCC will land you in the family law professional community you may not even know you need. Unlike other professional organizations dedicated to the family law professional, this multidisciplinary organization through its mission, vision and values, demonstrates and reinforces the critical importance of the family law professional’s work and, perhaps more importantly, the relevancy of our collective and unique knowledge fund to the broader national discourse about the needs of children and their families. I would wager a bet that not many who do our work understand their degree of importance to not only the individual families that are the focus of their professional lives, but also in the greater context of the global evolution of family and mental health law and policy. It likely goes without saying that if you are a family law professional,whether it has been one year or almost thirty, you can often feel like a spoke in a wheel with little to no control over a legal system that can, almost arbitrarily, save and redefine lives for the better or ruin and redefine lives for the worse. That is often because the very nature of our respective roles in the lives of individuals going through separation and divorce leaves us caught in between the anguish driving most of our clients to our offices and compromising their ability to make good decisions for themselves and particularly, their children — and — the stark reality of what the legal and mental health system cannot do for them. This utterly unsatisfying and unrelenting dilemma can wear anyone down, breed cynicism, and stunt the professional inspiration and growth necessary to maintain a standard of excellence and the creative spirit one needs to support these families.
And that is where AFCC comes in. For over fifty years, the AFCC has brought together and acculturated a community of family law professionals from all over the country and now the world, dedicated to the systemic improvement of the Family Court system and how to best understand the needs of families and children of separation and divorce to figure out how to best meet those needs. The scholarly work of AFCC membership is responsible in large part for the empirical evidence underpinning the evolution of and much of the revolutionary changes in family law and procedure across the country. This same work has targeted and elevated the standards of practice for forensic and clinical work across mental health disciplines directly and indirectly impacting families and children of separation and divorce. From the development of the concept, research, study and implementation of Parenting Plans, to establishing guidelines for forensic evaluations and court involved therapy, to dedicating itself to finding practical and meaningful out-of-court solutions to address and remediate the impact of high conflict divorce on children and court systems, the AFCC has incubated and nurtured the critical leadership on these and frankly, myriad other issues. This work has not only provided the family law professional a fundamental empirically based framework to approach this work, it has given the family law professional the option to convert his or her work to an intellectually stimulating and meaningful practice that allows the practitioner the confidence that he or she can be a force for good for this vulnerable population. Again, for those who practice outside this framework, it can be hard to understand the qualitative difference it makes to one’s professional life.
Here in Maryland, our AFCC chapter is dedicated to bringing the mission, vision and values of the AFCC to family law professionals that work for and on behalf of the families and children in the State of Maryland. In so doing, however, we are taking the necessary steps to build an organization with a grass roots infrastructure that ensures that we hear from and address the needs of all of Maryland practitioners and the populations they serve across the socio-economic spectrum. We are also working to incorporate “access to justice” issues in the fabric of our organizational goals and objectives.
Linda A. Delaney
PresidentPlease View Full Newsletter!