But the findings articulated at a one-day workshop hosted by Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele and the Center for Judicial Excellence suggest that question is more theory than practice.
If the statistics are accurate, the frequency with which children are allowed to have unsupervised contact with physically or sexually abusive parents after divorce in this country is alarming and worthy of the public's attention.
According to the Center for Judicial Excellence, "Not since the Catholic Church pedophile scandal has the United States seen this level of institutional collusion and corruption harming innocent children."
This may sound like hyperbole, but the comparison holds if, in fact, most family court professionals know the system is broken and are allowing the most vulnerable members of society to potentially suffer lifelong consequences.
It is indeed a broken system that allows 58,000 children each year to be placed in harm's way simply because the abusive parent also possesses the resources to hire a bevy of professionals who plead his/her case to judges, mediators and other family-law professionals.
Heavy caseloads, bad judges and unqualified mediators, who evaluate families sometimes based on no more than a one-hour meeting, can add up to decisions that permanentlyaffect families.
Those who are not directly involved trust the system to work — but there was a consistent message at the workshop that it does not work, and children are paying the price.
This has created a scenario whereby individuals who have no understanding of the law often sway the individual who is appointed to administer justice.
Steele also cites a level of dishonesty that she states is pervasive throughout the system. "It's not just mediators but social workers who are not telling the truth," she said.
The workshop featured experts in the field and parents sharing their gut-wrenching, first-hand testimony and offering solutions to the problem-plagued system in California.
State Sen. Mark Leno and other members of the Legislature are calling for an audit that will evaluate the magnitude of the concerns expressed over a number of years.
A number of participants also made it clear the problems they cite are not emblematic of the whole, maintaining there are indeed a number of good judges within the system. But there are enough bad ones who are not held accountable, causing the system dysfunction.
Steele should be commended for her willingness to bring attention to an issue that has flown under the radar for years. Investigation is long overdue.