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Transformative Experiences in Family Law

November 16, 2017 by pgd1

Father Greg Boyle has spent 30 years working in LA with gang members and young people transitioning out of prison.  He is the founder and Executive Director of Homeboy Industries.

Homeboy is a series of businesses including a restaurant, a bakery, cafés, and farmers markets created for the purpose of hiring these young people so that they may have on the job training.  The employees come from rival gangs so they must put aside their rivalry and hatred of each other.

In addition to working in this unique area, Father Greg has known his own personal suffering, being diagnosed with a chronic form of leukemia about 15 years ago.  One could say that Father Greg Boyle knows something about suffering.1

I have found this man to be a source of inspiration in the practice of family law.  The young people that Father Greg helps have all been through a form of suffering or trauma.  He has found that just providing them a job is not enough.  According to Father Greg suffering people must go through a process of healing.  Likewise many people who go through the process of divorce suffer.  They too must go through a process of healing.  The traditional litigation approach to family law does not afford people this opportunity.  In fact, it leads one in the opposite direction.

According to actor Jim Carrey, a supporter of Homeboy Industries, suffering leads to salvation – – in fact it is the only way.  He further suggests that once we accept our suffering we have to make one of two decisions.  We either go through the gate of resentment which leads to vengeance, which leads to self harm, which leads to harm to others.  Alternatively, we go through the gate forgiveness which leads to Grace.2

When a participant in a divorce makes the decision to take the path of collaborative law, they have made the choice that can lead to personal transformation.  I acknowledge that not every divorce is appropriate for collaborative law.  Certain personality types will not fit this model.  However, I would suggest that most situations would benefit from a collaborative approach.

My experience of representing clients in collaborative law is quite different from my litigation practice.  I do not witness people taking the path of vengeance.  The courthouse is full of individuals on that path.  The path of collaboration is a path where each participant inhabits his or her own sovereignty.

According to Father Greg to heal you have to be initiated into your true self.  The false self falls away. You embrace your newborn nobility and become the truth of who you are.

Here is a unique aspect of collaborative law.  It is not just the parties who benefit from this healing process, it is the professionals as well.

by Patrick Gaffney

by Patrick Gaffney


1 Portions of this blog were taken from NPR Fresh Air. November 13, 2017.  “Priest helps former gang members start new lives.”  Retrieved from:  https://www.npr.org/podcasts/381444908/fresh-air.

2 YouTube:  Homeboy Industries.  “Thought for the day: Jim Carrey September 9, 2017: This room is filled with God.  Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzyaQ0H5D74.

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