In India, a family is considered as the basic unit of society and marriage as the most important relationships within family influencing morality and civilization. The disputes which arise in a family are very crucial and they need to be taken care of with patience and also reach a solution where both parties can benefit. There are various kinds of disputes which happen in a family and such disputes are different for every family, ranging from a big joint family to a small nuclear family. These include divorce and separation issues, inheritance, parenting, external or internal family concerns. The conflict happens between couples, between siblings, with parents, and so on.
Mediation has turned out to be a good option when it comes to family law disputes. Mediation is a settlement process in which either parties or Courts appoint a mediator who helps both the parties on reaching an amicable solution or agreement. Mediator is a neutral third person who helps parties to compromise by facilitating discussion between the parties: directly, by helping them in communication, by assisting parties in identifying issues, reducing misunderstandings, clarifying priorities, exploring areas of compromise, generating options to solve the dispute. It provides for alternative dispute resolution mechanism to be followed in the cases where there is a possibility of a settlement. The main role of the mediator is to help parties so that they can communicate with each other and reach a settlement.
Mediation cuts the price and the long process of litigation. It is a confidential and ethical process and does not harm the sentiments of either party. A neutral person assists the matter and hence, derives a conclusion which fits perfectly for both parties. Therefore, it is a neutral process. Mediation is a simple and flexible process and does not need much formality to it.
It is also the mediator’s role to tell the parties about the mediation process, issues that are typically addressed, the principle that may be considered, etc. The mediator has to ensure that both the parties are heard during the mediation process. It is very important that the mediator is impartial while dealing with the matter. If there is a doubt in the mind of the mediator that he cannot remain impartial, he should withdraw and a new mediator should be appointed instead. The mediator should maintain confidentiality and not disclose any of the details regarding the mediation process with anyone.
Mediation centres do not pass the judgment but give the couples solutions to smoothly repair the cracks in their marriage. After the mediation process, the divorcing couples may give another chance to their relationship or file a petition for divorce in the court. After the mediation process, the divorce becomes a mutual divorce with the consent of both the spouse. Section 9 of Family Court Act, 1984 also states that before going to the court, the partners need to go through the mediation process. Therefore, mediation is a must for all the divorcing couples to give their marriage one more chance. Hence, Mediation is very important for family law cases and mediators play a vital role in concluding such cases which makes the court process less exhausting.
Mediation as a mechanism of alternative dispute resolution can be very effectively used. The litigation proceedings in respect of matters like family, divorce, maintenance and alimony or custody, the trial of offenders or any other matrimonial cause are seen in legal terms. They need to be viewed as a social issue requiring therapeutic approach. Winning or losing is not the main concern in these cases. The important part here is an approachable settlement between people who are/were bound by family. Professional assistance in this area will help them to deal with their issues and resolve their differences. Family disputes need to be seen with a humanitarian approach and hence attempts should be made to reconcile the differences so as to not disrupt the family structure. The matrimonial disputes are not criminal in nature, they are not causing harm to public at large. So such disputes and specifically divorce cases need to be dealt separately through mediation. The disturbance in the family affects the society at large.