DOES FAMILY COURT PROVIDE CONCILIATION SERVICES?

by: Mace H. Greenfield

Family Court Act Article 8 provides for conciliation. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, conciliation is defined as:

The adjustment and settlement of a dispute in friendly, unantagonistic manner. Used in courts before trial with a view towards avoiding trial and in labor disputes before arbitration. See Arbitration; court of Conciliation; Mediation; Pre-trial conference; Settlement.

The conciliation services of a family court appear to be limited. The probation department service is authorized to meet with both parties and conduct preliminary conferences to attempt to informally reach agreement between the parties prior to the filing of the petition. The Community Dispute Resolution Centers Program appears to provide the majority of the conciliation services for the family court system in this state.

Statements by any party made during a preliminary or conciliation conference are not admissible into evidence during a fact finding hearing, prior to a conviction, should a family offense petition be filed. This is no doubt to encourage the candor of the parties to assist probation in seeking a solution and the agreement of the parties. Research, however, does not reveal much in this area. Possibly, with early intervention, through education, counseling, alcohol and substance abuse rehabilitation, an open mind to the gender equality of domestic violence, and a view that violence is violence no matter who is the abuser and who is the abused, domestic violence can begin to decrease in our society.

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