Divorcing couples could save more than half their legal costs by going through mediation rather than the courts, according to a family law expert.
Some 90% of divorce and separation cases in Ireland are already decided not by the presiding judge but by the parties involved, proving that most could be resolved without ever going to court. This would save the separating couple emotional distress and most of their costs, argues the author of a book launched last night.
Josepha Madigan, the author of Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) In Ireland said alternative or appropriate dispute resolution mechanisms such as mediation or collaborative law could, in almost all cases, produce a resolution that was quicker, less distressing for the parties and their families, and could save up to 60% on the cost of the court process.
Ms Madigan, a solicitor, mediator, and family law specialist, said the number of Irish adults who had divorced or separated in the past 25 years now stands at 250,000.
She said ADR allowed couples to address the complexities of family disputes in a non-confrontational way and without recourse to the courts.
“In many important respects, the court-based model in family law is the antithesis of resolution, as most would understand it. It projects people who are at their most vulnerable into a process that only serves to escalate negative conflict.
“Its adversarial nature inhibits compromise and often prevents dialogue. Winning is paramount and as often as not that becomes narrowly defined. And in truth, there are no winners in a system that places adversarial bargaining at the heart of a process that culminates in an imposed solution by a judge.”
ADR offers options, Ms Madigan said. It avoids the often hostile court environment, and allows the parties time and space to reach longer lasting and more effective solutions to their disputes, she added.
“I believe very strongly that the majority of couples who separate or divorce wish to do so without recourse to litigation or without requiring a court imposed outcome. I believe as a legal profession we must put our clients’ interests ahead of our own.”
Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) In Ireland is published by Jordan Ltd and is the first book of its kind to be published in this jurisdiction.
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