Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution
Spring 2016, Vol. 17, Issue 3, pp. 909-936
The last twenty years have witnessed a transformation of family justice systems across the common law world, featuring particular emphasis on ensuring that the best interests of children are protected when resolving family disputes. The evolving paradigm has shifted away from resolving family disputes in formal courtrooms via a litigious process that is viewed as lengthy, slow, complex, expensive, and far too adversarial, particularly when children are involved. In response to these challenges, many family procedural reforms, such as modifying court rules to accommodate more informal and flexible processes and expanding judicial roles to provide greater case management and settlement facilitation, have been introduced within the global common law community. More non-adversarial approaches to dispute resolution have developed, with increased use of informal out-of-court dispute resolution--processes often referred to collectively as "alternative dispute resolution" or "ADR" processes. Increasingly, disputes involving children are being handled through more informal, non-adversarial processes like mediation and collaborative practice. Prevention and early resolution of disputes are said to reduce the detrimental effect of conflict on children. The need to protect the best interests of children is now an important feature of family justice reform. The central focus is on providing better, more effective ways of determining what is in the children's best interests and providing children with the opportunity to be heard and to participate in proceedings affecting them - either directly or through a representative... Click here to download the full article.