DIVORCE MEDIATION IN EUROPE:
An Introductory Outline

Miquel Martín Casals (University of Girona, Spain)

‘Divorce mediation’ is a dispute resolution process in which, as an alternative to judicial or administrative decision-making, the spouses are assisted by an impartial and neutral professional (the mediator or mediators) in order to analyse the situation arising from divorce and to try to reach their own agreement with regard to some or all of the matters under dispute. The phrase ‘divorce mediation’ (rather than ‘family mediation’) emphasises the application of this process to the crisis of the couple that takes place with the breakdown of marriage, and explicitly leaves aside mediation for the resolution of other types of conflict that may arise between family members, such as maintenance among relatives, establishing links with biological parents, contact rights of grandparents with regard to their grandchildren, step-parent adoption or any other conflict between relatives. However, the much broader term of family mediation is also used in this sense.

In general, family mediation has taken similar steps in all European countries. Firstly, it was discovered with enthusiasm by professionals who deal with family conflicts. Shortly thereafter, these professionals organised themselves in associations for the promotion and practice of mediation. Next, some national legislatures considered mediation to be a useful mechanism for the resolution of conflicts arising out of separation or divorce, a procedure that is to be preferred to adjudication in adversarial proceedings. Finally, family mediation obtained more detailed legal regulation as such or has been dealt with within the broader framework of rules regarding mediation in civil and commercial matters.

This article offers a brief account and an overall picture of the current situation of this evolution in several European countries.

Cite as: Miquel Martín Casals, Divorce Mediation in Europe: An Introductory Outline, vol 9.2 ELECTRONIC JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE LAW, (July 2005), <http://www.ejcl.org/92/art92-2.pdf.

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Contents
1. Introduction
2. The current state of family mediation in Europe according to national law and practice
2.1 Family mediation in Eastern Europe
2.2 Family mediation in Southern Europe
2.3 Family mediation in Northern Europe
2.4 Family mediation in Western Europe
2.4.1 Germany
2.4.2 France
2.4.2.1 Origins and development
2.4.2.2 French legislation
2.4.3 England and Wales
2.4.4 Other countries, in particular Belgium and Austria
2.4.4.1 Austria
2.4.4.2 Belgium
Notes

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