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Family law broadly pertains to the Dowry Prohibition Act, maintenance under Section 125, the Domestic Violence Act, Guardians, and Wards Act, matters relating to divorce, judicial separation, and restitution of conjugal rights. The objective of the Family Courts Act, 1984 is “An act to provide for the establishments of family courts with a view to promote conciliation in, and secure speedy settlement of, disputes relating to marriage and family affairs and for matters connected therewith.”. As per Section 10 (3) of the Act, a Family Court can establish its procedures as family disputes involve sentiments and emotions, the technical and procedural legal standards would seldom suffice. It has been revealed that there is a lack of user awareness in India about mediation and how it works. Often, one or both parties do not appear for mediation, which could be a reflection of parties to disputes having little faith in the mechanism, despite there being sufficient evidence. The percentage of divorce cases settled through mediation between the time span of 2011-2015 is almost 70%.

The settlement includes questions of divorce, separation, maintenance, settlement of matrimonial property, withdrawal of other criminal or civil proceedings in any other court of law filed by either of the parties, quashing of criminal complaints, child custody or terms for reconciliation basically, helping the parties negotiate a workable way of living apart. Taking into consideration the behemoth backlog of pending cases and the unsettling ratio of roughly twenty judges per ten lakh people, ADR facilitates speedy settlement. Litigation is a tardy process; it compounds the existing agony of the parties. By the time the matter is adjudicated, the parties are physically, financially, and emotionally wrecked and past their age of resettling in life. The Family court judges have more than sixty cases on the board per day thus time is a constraint for them. Meditation on the other hand is personalized, time- saving, no-loss, flexible and inexpensive, non-binding, and confidential process.

In the case of K.Srinivas Rao vs. D.A. Deepa the respondent-wife filed multiple complaints due to discord between families of both parties. The Supreme Court in this case reiterated that, if the wife would have not been misguided or would have had access to mediation centers, the situation would not have aggravated further. Mediation does not mean giving in or that the erring spouse will get out of clutches of the law. If there is a settlement, the parties will be saved from the trials and tribulations of a criminal case enabling larger public interest. In practice, the severity of each matter is taken into consideration and referred to mediation accordingly, along with the willingness of the parties. The Presiding Judge appoints either a fellow Judge Mediator or an advocate from the Mediation Panel. Then, there are round of meetings in the presence of the Mediator before the next court date, direct conversations in the absence of the legal representatives are permitted. Each mediator adopts a different approach to make the environment co-operative and least competitive, which is the sole aim. The presiding Judge is in receipt of the success or failure report on the next court date. If the mediation is successful, the lawyers file the agreed-upon consent terms and the Amended Petition. Amended Petition means when one-sided Petition becomes Mutual Petition as per the Section of the concerned personal law. Despite the failure, if the parties are still inclined then there will be another round of mediation and in case of disinclination the matter proceeds as per further orders of the Court.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Sneha Golecha, is currently studying at the Mumbai University Mumbai,

You can contact them at https://www.linkedin.com/in/sneha-golecha-a4412a198/

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