Family mediation and its success overseas

There is no denying that family law mediation has been integrated with varying degrees of success in different parts of the world. This relatively underused method of dispute resolution can be found in Asia, Europe the Americas and Europe. However, in most places, mediation has proved a resounding success and has become an important part of family law.

Its US Origins

Family mediation can be said to be a US phenomenon having first been integrated into California state law in the late 1930s. Since then, it has been written into the law of 35 states and has been particularly effective in the thirteen states which made it mandatory rather than compulsory.

Despite the fact that family mediation has been widely accepted across the US, neither lawyers nor the general public have begun to think about it as a valid alternative to be represented by a family lawyer. It is still looked upon by most as an option generally taken up by less wealthy members of society. This is a shame given the fact that family mediation can take much of the expense, bitterness and delay out of the divorce process; something we have noticed in our recent experience. Nevertheless, the US is still at the forefront of developing alternative methods of dispute resolution.

Family mediation in Europe

Across Europe, the benefits of family mediation have not been recognised as quickly as they have been in the US. In the last 30 years, it has been integrated into law in many countries and the responses have varied markedly from nation to nation. In some areas there was a very enthusiastic response from lawyers who quickly moved to establish professional organisations whereas other countries were less receptive to the idea. Some viewed mediation as a good alternative to litigation and therefore integrated it into aw whereas others preferred to stay with the status quo rather than take the time and effort to try something new.

Amongst areas to which family mediation was introduced in the 1980s, Eastern Europe and Southern Europe with the exception of Spain did not really respond to family mediation and failed to integrate it fully into law. However, by contrast, mediation is widely used in Spain and across Northern Europe and is also enjoying great success in Scandinavia following its introduction in the 1990s.

In some areas of the world, governments have reacted very positively to family mediation but there have also been some disappointments. When France agreed to hold the inaugural European family mediation conference in 1990, people believed that the country would become a world leader in family mediation. Instead, 20 years of delaying its absorption into the legal framework followed by which point public interest in it had waned. On the plus side, family mediation has been very successfully introduced and absorbed into British, Austrian and Belgian law.

Status Quo

Sadly, it appears that family mediation only achieves the highest levels of success in areas where its use is made compulsory. As a result, family mediation remains a much underused method of resolving disputes in family law because in areas where is it discretionary people tend to stick with what they know, which is traditional legal representation even if there is a cheaper and less acrimonious method available to them.

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If you are looking for a method of dispute resolution which often proves to be less expensive, acrimonious and time consuming than court divorce, you should get in touch with our divorce experts about family mediation.Our family law team includes two jointly qualified family lawyers/mediators.

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