Brigitte E.S.L. Chin-A-Fat

Winner Dissertation Prize 2004

Scheiden: (ter)echter zonder rechter?

Supervisors: Prof. mr J.E. Doek, Prof. dr R.A.R. Bullens
Nomination: Free University Amsterdam, Faculty of Law

Report by the selection committee

This study is a basic contribution to the efforts of creating theory and practice that can help to avoid polarisation in divorce cases and to make a divorce outside the law courts possible. Every year some 40.000 divorces are pronounced in the Netherlands. These are fraught with legal procedures that often aggravate the pain of the divorce. The different opinions on the way in which the consequences of a divorce should be regulated by legal procedures (children, alimony) easily grow into conflicts over which years of legal fighting follow. For years it has been attempted to lessen the risks of legal polarisation. This has led to the introduction of mediation and of proposals for the introduction of the possibility for a divorce without the intercession of the judge. In her dissertation dr Chin-A-Fat gives a thorough analysis of current theories and practices of mediation in the Netherlands and abroad. She presents a wealth of empirical material resulting from her own research and from research in the United States of America. On this basis she submits proposals for regulations for mediation in which the legal rights of all parties concerned are safeguarded. A novel aspect are her ideas on the possible role of minors in this process.