A form of family mediation known as the ‘conciliation technique’ has been hailed as a success in Finland.
Instead of going to court, divorcing parents sit down with a judge and a psychologist or social worker with expertise in family breakdown, and they attempt to agree on an out-of-court solution to the family’s problems. The technique was rolled out to all district courts in the country last year following a successful pilot scheme and many solicitors now recommend conciliation to their clients when first instructed. The first meeting is usually held within six weeks of the process beginning – significantly sooner than a court date would typically be held.
Around 70 per cent of Finnish family disputes are new referred to the scheme, principally but not exclusively those involving children. And psychotherapist Päivi Mäntylä-Karppinen told website Uutiset, around 70 per cent of those cases reach agreement without ever going to the courts. She believes couples who go through the scheme improve their communication skills as a result.
“Even those who did not end up striking mutually favourable deals were thankful for a peaceful environment in which to discuss their issues. It helps both the parents and the children involved.”
Lawyer Marjatta Onnela-Kariniemi said conciliation had become the “primary avenue for the Finnish courts” for “resolving child custody disputes”, adding that “it is suitable for all other divorce-related issues, too.”