AI v MT (ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION)

With the introduction of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in 2010, the essence of divorce and family proceedings became less governed by litigation and more attuned to considered discourse between parties on terms embracing the welfare of children and respect for individual rights.

After marrying relatively young, and moving quickly into starting a family, two devout members of the Jewish faith found themselves in stark opposition to how best they could live their lives and in turn, seek to end the marriage before occupying different countries.

When the matter of how contact could be set between the father and the two small children, it soon became a matter of contention that ultimately drew guidance from the Jewish community, but overall authority from the English courts.

When adopting ADR strategies, the emphasis is typically placed upon expedience and reduced costs; however, due to such vast geographical differences, and intrinsic religious constraints, the process of divorce ran over a period of years versus months, and was certainly not without its frustrations.

What eventually emerged however, was that through a combination of delicate communication, respect for doctrinal traditions, cohesive written agreements and the balancing of the needs of the children, it was possible to overcome the potential pitfalls of cross-jurisdictional conflict, and move matters to a much more mature and objective conclusion.

This became an outcome that at times, seemed unlikely given the inclination by the parties involved to build walls between them, that in turn, served to harm the children and drain financial resources further.

Thankfully, it all came down to a successful collaboration of the Jewish authorities, domestic courts and continued willingness of the parents to collectively work toward a resolution beyond the lifetime of marriage, while in its conclusion, the court reminded the parties that:

“[S]ave where statute provides otherwise, when considering issues concerning the upbringing of children, it is the child’s welfare that is the paramount consideration.”