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Mediation currently plays a minor role in the Irish family justice system, yet a policy consensus exists that more couples should be encouraged to mediate and that increased rates of mediation will reduce the numbers seeking redress through the courts. The recently published Mediation Act 2017 adopts this position, assuming that the provision of information on mediation will increase uptake and that mediation offers an alternative to litigation for most civil disputes. This article reviews attempts in Ireland, England and Wales to encourage family disputants to mediate, identifying weaknesses in the information strategy. It also examines the legal framework governing all-issues divorce and dissolution in Ireland, pointing to the limited potential for mediation to act as an alternative to litigation. It concludes by arguing that policy focus must shift away from encouraging mediation as an alternative to litigation toward a more nuanced understanding of mediation as a support to court based dispute resolution.
McGowan, D. (2018) Reframing the mediation debate in Irish all-issues divorce disputes: from mediation vs. litigation to mediation and litigation. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 2018. doi:10.1080/09649069.2018.1444445
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