Perspectives on inter-professional collaboration : mediation

by Tatchell, D.

Abstract (Summary)
This research is based on the continuous search for alternatives in dealing with custody and access of minor children in divorcing families. In spite of the Mediation in Certain Divorce Matters Act, 1987, providing for mediation, it did not lead to the widespread implementation of mediation as an alternative form of dispute resolution in divorce matters. The family advocate as provided for in the Act, serves to protect the interest of minor children in disputes. However, custody evaluation is still used to determine the custody of minor children. Custody evaluation comprises an in depth study and assessment of the structure and functioning of the family made by a social worker and written up in the form of an evaluative report which is then submitted to the family advocate. It occurred to the researcher that there had to be better ways of dealing with custody disputes and consequently the damage done by the parents who fight over their children without any regard for the children’s feelings. It was considered an option to find out from the professionals directly involved with divorce and custody disputes why they have not considered alternatives, such as mediation, to resolve the disputes arising out of a divorce.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five social workers and five attorneys to gain their perspectives on mediation, how the two professions could cooperate to assist divorcing couples and how inter-professional collaboration could be used to promote the use of mediation in East London.

The family advocate was identified as a key role player. The possibility of mandatory mediation was raised with recommendations that it be considered. The co-mediation model was raised to enhance inter-professional collaboration. Social workers see their role as mediating custody issues where the attorneys see their role as mediating division of property and assets. Both professions recognize that they have their own unique contribution to make. Both social workers and attorneys have been found to be willing to collaborate with each other to make a mediation service available to divorcing couples.

Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:social development closed end 2003


Date of Publication:01/01/2000

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