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What is a family dispute?

What is a family dispute?


All families at some time experience difficulties and stress. Family disputes can be about almost anything. Some of the most common topics in mediation & Conciliation on Family Disputes are:


1. Disputes among Husband and wife

2. Children’s education, health and welfare

3.  Contact with children (separated couples or extended families)

4.   Financial support for children (separated couples)

5.  Lack of trust

6. Parenting differences

7. Disputes while partition including Property settlement

8. Disputes on taking care of parents

9. Relationship breakdown etc..


Issue like residence decisions, distribution of care giving responsibilities, safety and health concerns, wills and estates, the sale of the family home and more can divide a family for years to come. When communication is difficult and critical decisions are put on hold, families may need the help of a skilled mediator & Conciliator to get them “unstuck” so they can move forward. In mediation and conciliation, people deal with the problems and issues under dispute in a timely fashion and in privacy. It is a cooperative rather than an adversarial process, so participants are often able to repair their strained relationships. Because family members develop their own solutions, which reflect their family’s unique satisfaction with the outcome is quite high and these resolutions tend to the workable and long lasting.

So what is mediation?


A simple, relatively inexpensive from of dispute resolution by communication. A way to resolve differences with the help of an independent, unbiased mediator usually a lawyer or mental health professional by giving an opportunity to teach their own solution by the parties to the dispute.


What is conciliation?


Conciliation “is a process in which the conciliator plays proactive role to bring about a settlement”. Conciliation differs from Mediation in that the main goal is to conciliate, most of the time by seeking concessions. In Mediation, the mediator tries to guide the discussion in a way that optimizes parties need, takes feelings into account and reframes representations. Where while defining ‘Mediation and Conciliation, it is stated that ‘Mediation is way of settling disputes by a third party who helps both sides to come to an agreement, which each considers acceptable. Mediation can be ‘evaluative’ or ‘facilitative’. Conciliation, it is said, is a procedure like Mediation but the third party, the conciliator, takes a more interventionist role in bringing the two parties together and in suggestion falling into disuse and process which is pro-active is also being regarded as a form of Mediation. One significant difference between conciliation and Mediation lies in the fact that conciliators possess expert knowledge of the domain in which they conciliate. The conciliator can make suggestions for settlement terms and can give advice on the subject-matter. Conciliators may also use their role to actively encourage the parties to come to a resolution. In certain types of dispute the conciliator has a duty to provide legal information. This helps any agreement reached to comply with any relevant statutory framework pertaining to the dispute. Therefore conciliation may include an advisory aspect.


Both Mediation and conciliation serve to identify the disputed issues and to generate options that help disputants reach a mutually-satisfactory resolution. They both offer relatively flexible processes; and any settlement reached should have the agreement of all parties. This contrasts with litigation, which normally settles the dispute in favor of the party with the strongest argument.



Time for mediation


When the parties to the dispute need to find a way to communicate, when they need to find solutions, when they need to manage stress and high emotions, when they need to balance future plans with practical decisions, then that will be the best time to put it before mediation/conciliation. This is the perfect time for an independent, unbiased mediator to step in and help them to establish and identify their needs for the future, communicate those to the other party without animosity and friction, and for enable them to work together, in the best possible way, in the best interests of themselves and for the betterment of their children. More than any thing, children want their parents to get along. If they can’t have first prize of Mum and Dad getting back together, an amicable relation ship is the next best thing.


People often assume that family disputes must be settled in court by a judge. The reality is that family disputes should be settled before they reach the courtroom. Mediation is a process where a neutral third party with no decision making power –the mediator – helps people to negotiate a settlement to their dispute. One of the most important differences between mediation and the court process (which is called litigation) is that mediation allows people to reach agreements that meet everyone’s interests. The court process, on the other hand, focuses on opposing legal rights and obligations of the parties. In litigation, one person wins and the other person loses, where as mediation will creates a win-win situation.


Is mediation confidential?


One of the advantages of mediation is that it is confidential. The emotional and perhaps embarrassing issues that are raised in divorce and child custody difficulties will be kept private, as opposed to a trial where all of the proceedings are part of the public record. The entire Mediation processes are also confidential, meaning that the process doesn’t become part of the public record as does a court tried divorce case. This is especially important when the mediation concerns children. The adversarial nature of a divorce trial can severely stain the ability of parents to communicate with each other and their children. Dealing with custody, visitation and child support in mediation can often short circuit much of the bitterness and support positive family interaction. This can really help the children who usually want a close bond with both their mother and father. Thus mediation helps the betterment of our entire society and the good future of the children.


Family Dispute Resolution (ie., Mediation and Conciliation) Process.


Family Dispute Resolution is process by which people who are in conflict can be helped to communicate with each other about what is important for them and how to make decisions about resolving their dispute. Family Dispute Resolution can be used in a wide range of situations including Family Law, neighborhood, commercial and workplace disputes, parent/adolescent conflicts, problems at school and issues concerning the care of the elderly. Mediators assist them to sort out the issues and come up with acceptable solutions, and make mutually satisfactory agreements. The family dispute resolution process involves: the parties listening to each other’s point of view without interruption, identifying issues with need to be resolved, sharing of relevant information exploring ideas and options, testing possible solutions, putting decisions and agreements in writing. Thus “Mediation” means a process in which the parties appear before an impartial third party who has no authority to adjudicate the dispute but who, through the application of standard mediation techniques generally accepted within the professional mediation community, assists the parties in identifying the issues, and then interests, exploring settlement alternatives, and fashioning the basis of an agreement.


When a case settles at mediation, the mediator will help the parties write an agreement. In family disputes, it is common to file the signed agreement with the court or to use the agreement as the basis for a court order. It is recommended that people seek independent legal advice before signing the agreement. The agreement is like any contract reached between two people. If someone breaches the agreement, parties can meet again with a mediator to attempt to resolve the dispute or use the court process to enforce the agreement.


Thus Mediation is process that may help the parties to the dispute to resolve their case so they can have an opportunity to unite again or to have an uncontested divorce without much hurting each other. Mediation is particularly useful in situations involving children, since it is in the interests of the children that their parents “get along” even if they will no longer live together as husband and wife. In many countries all cases that involve contested custody or visitation matters are referred to mandatory mediation, provided the parties are represented by and attorney and there is no allegation of domestic abuse.


Mediation attempts to change disputes from “win-lose” to “win-win”. Mediation is a non- adversarial process of helping people come to agreement on issue like parenting arrangements, support of children and spouses and division of real and personal property. Mediation occurs when a neutral third-party, who has training in dispute resolution, assists the parties to the dispute and helps them to resolve the issues that are causing conflict and to make cooperative, informed decisions.


Mediation can be used to resolve the entire range of family disputes either before a divorce takes place in order to consummate a marital settlement agreement, as well as after the divorce to resolve continuing disputes that might arise under a marital settlement agreement. Mediators use a variety of negotiating techniques to help spouses reach a mutually agreeable solution to their differences. The final decisions are the spouses’, not the mediator’s because both have had a say in how to deal with the issues that are important to them. In divorce mediation, the couple controls how and when decisions get made, rather than attorneys and judges.


Mediation is about finding solutions. It’s about facing the issues and challenges and dealing with the practicalities of family life after separation. For example, living arrangements, co-parenting, time sharing, budgeting and parenting plans can be discussed, and options created for tem. Both parties are active in this form of ‘brainstorming’, often coming up with unique and creative outcomes that offer the very best compromise. The mediator has no prior knowledge of the parties or their dispute, and remains unbiased throughout the process. The rules and ethics of mediation ensure that the mediator does not align him/herself with either/any of the parties, and must withdraw if this occurs.


Thus What Does A Mediator Do?

Brings parties together

Establishes communication and sets an atmosphere for negotiation

Helps negotiate agendas and clarify issues to be addressed

Pursue each parties to respect each other by highlighting the positive traits

Helps parties obtain data they need to make decisions

Clarifies interests, priorities and alternatives to an agreement

Helps parties explore (sometimes in private caucus) ideas for creative solutions

Identifies overlapping interests or areas of potential agreement

Helps parties agree on criteria to evaluate solutions

Help parties craft settlements that are effective, comprehensive and durable




MEDIATION is not the answer to every dispute between the people in Family. In some situations the Courts are absolutely necessary and the only recourse for a person is to file lawsuit. LITIGATION is not the answer to every dispute either. MEDIATION offers the most practical solution in that majority of disputes. The opportunities to be personally creative in seeking constructive solutions to the parenting and economic crises of serration and divorce are legion. Check them out and do homework. There is a better way then battling in the courts. What the parties to the dispute need are the inclination to evaluate their options – both in terms of process and substantive dispositions.