Mediation helps keep family disputes away from court
ABU DHABI // The number of legal cases involving family disputes has risen by more than half this year, but more are being resolved amicably with the help of counselling services.
The family guidance unit of the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department received 6,608 cases between January and June, up 55 per cent from the same period last year. But only 31 per cent of the cases this year went to court, compared with 48 per cent last year.
Hadeya Al Hammadi, a lawyer in Abu Dhabi, said the department’s counsellors were now trying to get opposing parties to reach a settlement rather than sending cases to court.
The counsellors try to get the opposing parties in cases such as divorce, child custody and alimony to reconcile.
Their work involves discussions that may lead to an agreement. A case will be referred to court if that fails.
Mrs Al Hammadi said the counsellors were given “longer periods between sessions” for their work.
“The adjournments could reach up to five months. So they are seriously trying to reach reconciliation and alternative solutions,” she said, adding that the counsellors’ patience was commendable, as “one should not rush things between spouses”.
Mrs Al Hammadi has handled three cases that were resolved before reaching court.
“Before they used to hold one session, maximum two sessions, and then they would directly raise it at court,” she said.
Taking a case to court often meant that the pride of the husbands was offended and reconciliation became impossible.
“A husband would say, ‘My wife dragged me to court. There is no way I will accept her in my home again’,” said Mrs Al Hammadi.
She said counsellors would now exhaust all means to resolve family disputes to avoid referring them to court.
“I have noticed counsellors are more serious this year,” said Mrs Al Hammadi.
“There used to be about two or three of them, now there are about seven.”
Yazan Al Rawashdeh, a legal consultant, agreed that some counsellors were keen for feuding family members to reach rapprochement.
“One counsellor differs from another. There is one who will fight to bring the dispute to an end at his office, so long adjournments were given,” he said.
“Not because of the workload but to give it a chance to be solved with the family.”
During the adjournment period, the opposing parties’ anger often eased.
“This all depends on the type of dispute. For instance, a person could be determined to divorce no matter how many solutions are proposed,” said Mr Al Rawashdeh.
Some counsellors, however, made female complainants believe they could get their own way, he said.
“Then she gets nothing and the case ends up in court.
“Other counsellors exhaust themselves until they find a solution. They also have instructions to reach a reconciliation target, so you find the counsellor creating solutions from nothing.”
Mr Al Rawashdeh said the number of matrimonial disputes involving Emiratis was disproportionate compared with the rest of the UAE’s population.
Divorce lawyer Ibrahim Al Tamimi said reconciliations had been unlikely in his experience.
“It is rare that cases end with reconciliation. And even if they do reach an agreement, it doesn’t last and they return to court,” he said. Eighty per cent of his clients are women.
“I am referring to my cases, most have been raised to court.”
Mr Al Tamimi said women who agreed to a compromise were often dissuaded from pursuing their full rights.
“They do not reach an agreement based on what the woman wants and some convince her to just accept anything,” he said.
“Some counsellors do not even guide the woman to her full rights. We do not accept that the woman agrees to any solution, we insist that she receives her ultimate rights.”
Updated: August 21, 2016 04:00 AM