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Are settlement conferences appropriate?

Dominic Raeside reflects on the benefits – or otherwise – of settlement conferences in children cases and whether FDAC is a meaningful comparison

7 December 2016

As a mediator, if there is one thing I’ve learned from my 30 years of mediating several thousand cases (mainly private law), it is that to be successful you have to move parents from positional bargaining and focus on their ongoing parental relationship. If parents are able to build a functioning, collaborative, post-separation parental relationship, that is likely to be the most important factor for their children going forward.

Using the analogy of muscles, the adversarial arena uses different muscles from the consensual, pragmatic, fair-minded, and child-centric one. Courts are fundamentally adversarial battle grounds and parents generally attend court with high levels of anxiety and with the presumption that they will need to battle in order to win. I don’t think therefore that courts are the arena for engaging the more consensual side of parents’ nature. If you are appealing to their ability to make...

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