Pre-litigation Mediation in Family Disputes
The Supreme Court of India identified that pre-litigation mediation can be of great help in family disputes.
Pre-litigation mediation in family disputes is a voluntary process that occurs before the initiation of formal legal proceedings, such as divorce or child custody cases. It provides an opportunity for family members to resolve their conflicts and reach agreements with the assistance of a trained mediator. Here is a description of pre-litigation mediation in family disputes:
Voluntary Participation: Pre-litigation mediation is a voluntary process, meaning that all parties must agree to participate. It is typically encouraged as an alternative to traditional litigation, allowing families to explore mutually beneficial resolutions in a more amicable and collaborative manner.
Neutral Mediator: A neutral and impartial mediator, experienced in family law and dispute resolution, facilitates the mediation process. The mediator helps facilitate communication, manage emotions, and guide discussions to ensure a fair and balanced negotiation environment.
Confidentiality: Similar to other mediation processes, pre-litigation mediation in family disputes is confidential. This means that discussions and information shared during the mediation sessions are typically not admissible as evidence in court, fostering open and honest communication between the parties.
Focus on Interests and Needs: The mediator encourages participants to focus on their underlying interests and needs rather than positional bargaining. This approach allows parties to identify common ground, explore creative solutions, and prioritize the best interests of all family members involved.
Customized Agreements: Through pre-litigation mediation, families have the opportunity to create customized agreements that suit their unique circumstances and preferences. This can include agreements related to child custody and visitation, spousal support, division of assets, and other important matters.
Preservation of Relationships: Pre-litigation mediation aims to promote healthier communication and minimize the adversarial nature of family disputes. By working collaboratively, families can preserve important relationships and maintain a sense of control over the resolution process.
Cost and Time Efficiency: Compared to traditional litigation, pre-litigation mediation is often more cost-effective and time-efficient. It can help families avoid prolonged legal battles and the associated expenses, while also providing a faster resolution to their conflicts.
Court Approval: Once the parties reach an agreement through pre-litigation mediation, it may be submitted to the court for review and approval. If the court finds the agreement to be fair and in the best interests of any children involved, it may be incorporated into a court order or legally binding agreement.
Pre-litigation mediation in family disputes offers families a constructive and proactive approach to resolving their conflicts outside of the courtroom. It empowers families to take control of their own decisions and promotes cooperative problem-solving. By choosing pre-litigation mediation, families can work towards mutually satisfactory outcomes while minimizing the emotional and financial toll often associated with traditional litigation processes.
In K. Srinivas Rao v. D.A. Deepa , the Supreme Court discussed the idea of pre-litigation mediation in the context of family disputes. In this case, the husband prayed for a divorce decree on grounds of mental cruelty as the wife had filed a false criminal complaint against him and his family. The Court, while granting the husband relief, placed great importance on the benefits of pre-litigation mediation as a form of dispute settlement, observing that in the present case there would be no requirement for a divorce had the parties approached a mediation centre prior to pursuing the suit. The Court acknowledged that often disputes such as these arise as a result of trivial reasons that are exacerbated by pursuing litigation. The oppositional ‘winner takes all’ set-up is not beneficial for the relationship between parties, particularly in the context of matrimonial disputes.
Subsequently, the judge observed that data from the Delhi district courts indicate that chances of a successful resolution are higher when parties approach mediation centres at the earliest instance. The Court went to the extent of holding that if parties are willing, even non-compoundable offences (offences that cannot be settled out of Court) under 498A of the Indian Penal Code should be referred to mediation by courts. The judgement discussed that this method of resolution will help solve matrimonial disputes in an amicable manner such that all parties will be satisfied. The Court identified that the benefits of pre-litigation mediation include the possibility of settlement at the first instance, in addition to the fact that families and relationships are saved if parties resolve their dispute through mediation and reach a mutually agreeable settlement. In an effort to settle matrimonial disputes at the pre-litigation stage itself, the Supreme Court directed all family courts in India to set up and publicise pre-litigation clinics at all mediation centres.
The Equa Solution
If there is a tussle going on in your family life, then think twice before initiating court proceedings, else the situation may go out of control. You may explore pre-litigation mediation at Equa wherein the trained mediators shall understand your problem and find out the solution.
In all likelihood, you and your partners will understand the nuances of law relating to family disputes. You will be better informed before deciding anything.
The highly secured environment at Equa will secure the data and keep your identity anonymous.