Source: (2009) Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law. 16(2):322-333.

Professor Fincham is also correct that there is nothing in the nature of either forgiveness or justice that makes one inimical to the other.3 The experiences of restorative justice in the criminal context and of apology in medical malpractice litigation make this clear. Both movements demonstrate that it is fully possible for an individual who has suffered a criminal or tortious wrong at the hand of another to experience both justice and forgiveness.4 As Professor Fincham points out, and as the law understands, forgiveness does not mean forsaking the right to recompense.5 Thus, an individual convicted of assault is punished, regardless of whether the victim has forgiven the offender, and a physician whose care is negligent must compensate even a forgiving patient. The issue becomes more complicated, however, once we enter the realm of family law, particularly when we focus on the law relating to the dissolution of marriage. This complexity stems from the nature of the relationships involved, the nature of the conduct at issue, and the stated expectations of the judicial system. In looking at these issues, I hope to draw from the two areas in which I teach: family law and legal ethics. Although the concepts addressed here can apply to all family members involved in a divorce, including children, I will focus particular attention on the spouses who are the actual parties to the divorce proceeding. (excerpt)