Towards a non-adversarial resolution of (post-)separation conflicts involving children: Children first!
PhD student: Mrs M. Buddenbaum
Promotors: Mrs Prof M.V. Antokolskaia, Mrs Prof L.M. Coenraad
Duration: 2/9/2019 - 1/9/2023
How can we (best) protect children from high-conflict parental divorce/separation? For nearly two decades, politicians and the judiciary in the Netherlands have been looking for solutions to combat divorce/separation issues between parents and the negative (long-term) effects this has on their children. The search for a solution for high-conflict divorce has gradually evolved into a quest for a new paradigm for a non-adversarial divorce procedure. The current (traditional) Dutch divorce procedure is adversarial: parents each have their own lawyer, which in the face of a dispute, can escalate their conflict. Now, a new non-conflictual, non-adversarial Dutch divorce/separation procedure is proposed, with its focus being on conflict prevention, de-escalation and putting the interests of the children first. This multidisciplinary, comparative and empirical investigation consists of three parts and is focused on investigating the possibilities for introducing a non-adversarial divorce/separation procedure in the Dutch legal system. The overarching question is to what extent a non-adversarial divorce/separation procedure fits within current Dutch procedural law and how the interests of children can be put first in such a procedure? The research combines a legal-dogmatic study of Dutch legal sources with empirical research and comparative research into two to three selected foreign jurisdictions that have experience with non-adversarial pre-litigation tracks and procedures and might potentially uncover relevant best practices and alternatives to the proposed non-adversarial procedure that will be piloted in the Netherlands. The empirical part of this study includes: Investigation of procedural documents; Semi-structured interviews with judges, family representatives, lawyers, mediators and parties (parents); Expert meetings with professionals. The expected output includes evaluations of non-adversarial pre-litigation tracks and procedures in the Netherlands and abroad and research into best practices and possibilities for introducing a non-adversarial procedure before, during and after parental divorce/separation in the Netherlands.