Private Justice in the Domain of Family Law: The Place of Family Group Conferences Within the Range of ADR Methods
In this contribution, the success of family mediation and collaborative practices across Europe will be briefly touched upon, but the focus will be on a less known method (or rather a decision-making model): ‘family group conferences’. The concept of family group conferences originated in New Zealand in 1989; less than 15 years later the proliferation of the concept had led to the adoption of such conferences in over 30 countries worldwide. This contribution analyses how referrals to family group conferences have been organized and regulated in three of those jurisdictions, New Zealand, England and Wales and the Netherlands. Among the issues to be dealt with are: the problems that crop up in the (judicial) assessment of requests for referrals, the nature of ‘a right to direct’ one’s own family affairs and the legal status of ‘plans’ concluded during a family group conference. The analysis ends with a preliminary assessment of the value added by this specific ADR variety, while further longitudinal, empirical research by the authors is in progress.
This longitudinal, socio-legal empirical research project (2015–2019) is subsidized by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research NWO, together with the city of Rotterdam, under the aegis of the national Smart Governance programme.
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