Hon. Marjorie Slabach receives Drown Award for Lifetime of Service to children and families

The Honorable Marjorie Slabach (ret) proudly representing the Overcoming Barriers Board when receiving the 2018
Drown Award from the Association of Family and Conciliation Court’s California Chapter for a lifetime of
services to children and families. This is her acceptance speech:

I’m remembering my first attendance at a California
Chapter AFCC Conference. It must have been more than
a quarter century ago here in San Francisco. I listened to
a panel of wonderful mental health and legal
professionals discussing the difficulty of dealing with
parenting in the court. I remember walking to the
microphone set up at the edge of the audience and
asking “Then why should we even try to deal with these
issues in a court system created for damages and crimes?
Why should divorce actions be a court process; why not a
totally different – more therapeutic process?”
I don’t remember the answer I got; but I was inspired to
learn about a therapeutic jurisprudence system for the
courts. Then I remember being a presenter at an AFCC-
CA conference here in San Francisco maybe 6 years ago
when I was supposed to be talking about alternative court systems
and thinking outside the box. In the end, I
fantasized that the box should be blown up and we
should build the system from ground up to fit the
families, rather than trying to make the families fit the
box.
Today I recognize the incredible changes we have made –
we AFCC members – at least to the process that occurs
outside of the court system. As a result of our research
and education, we have influenced movements of
mediation, collaborative law, and mandated education
for both the families and the professionals. We have
helped attorneys feel more confident about bringing
mental health principles and professionals into our cases
from the beginning of a case rather than waiting for the
hostility to harm the children.
We brought the revolutionary idea of mandating
mediation for parenting issues to the court. Educating
the mediators and judges continues to be our priority.
And for those families who are able to stay out of the
system and find attorneys and mental health
professionals to guide them through the process, we
AFCC members have espoused principles that have
influenced a much healthier group of reorganized
families. And I am very proud to have been part of that
growth. Thank you for this honor.