Anne Barlow, Rosemary Hunter, Janet Smithson, Jan Ewing, Kate Getliffe and Paulette Morris
Universities of Exeter and Kent:
This article sets out the preliminary findings from the completed national survey phase of a 3 year ESRC-funded empirical study, which aims to build an up-to-date picture of national awareness and patterns of experiences since 1996 of the three major forms of out of court Family Dispute Resolution currently available in England and Wales - Mediation, Solicitor Negotiation, and Collaborative Law. Whilst mediation was the best recognised of these forms of dispute resolution, the article considers why people who had used it were, in general, less satisfied with it than with those who had used the more partisan alternatives of either solicitor negotiation or collaborative law. The article also explores the reasons given for rejecting these different dispute resolution processes and highlights the high percentage of people who settle disputes without seeking legal advice at all. The aims of the further phases of the study are considered in the light of the changing family justice landscape following the Family Justice Review and Government Response.
The full version of this article appears in the March 2013 issue of Family Law.