On November 23 Astrid Scholten Martalas (law department) defends her PhD dissertation, titled: Alternative Dispute Resolution Post-Divorce or-Family Separation. Parenting Coordination: A Blueprint for its Regulation in South Africa and its Introduction in the Netherlands.
Childrens and families' rights in the Netherlands and South Africa
Martalas research undertakes a comparative investigation of the protection of children’s and families’ rights in South Africa and the Netherlands, doing so in order to examine whether the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms currently available in the two jurisdictions protect these rights. The continued involvement of parents in the rearing of their children post-divorce or -family separation necessitates joint decision-making in various aspects of their children’s lives. However, parents are not always able to reach agreement, and disputes arise.
Post-divorce or -family separation disputes frequently concern decisions that require almost immediate resolution, for example a once-off change in the existing contact schedule to accommodate a crisis in one parent’s life, and therefore approaching a court for adjudication becomes impractical. In response to this need, extra-judicial dispute resolution mechanisms have been developed in South Africa and the Netherlands alike.
A new psycho-legal hybrid dispute resolution mechanism, referred to as parenting coordination, has taken root in South Africa over the past decade. Parenting coordination is well established in the United States of America (USA) and Canada, and South Africa is only the third country in the world where this form of ADR is widely practised. At the time of writing, no empirical research into parenting coordination had been conducted in South Africa. Addressing this lacuna, the study of Martalas investigates several aspects of parenting coordination in South Africa, including the advantages of and objections to parenting coordination, the experiences of parenting coordinators (PCs), and the question of whether parenting coordination protects children’s and families’ rights. On the basis of its findings, the study concludes with many recommendations with regard to legislation and training in South Africa as well as the introduction of parenting coordination in the Netherlands.