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Guideline for
family problems

This guideline presents recommendations on interventions that can provide people good outcomes for family conflicts, especially those related to separation. They are drawn from a range of interventions available in international literature. 

Guidelines are developed according to the Guideline Method. Find out more by clicking on the button below.

21 recommendations

Directed to front-line family justice practitioners

Aimed at reaching good outcomes for people dealing with separation and other family conflicts

Designed to empower users

Recommendations according to The Treatment Guideline method

This treatment guideline shows a set of 21 recommended interventions that are actionable. They can be applied in family disputes, such as divorce and separation.

We have drawn interventions that are beneficial for the wellbeing of disputing parties from international literature in the field of justice. The interventions have been reviewed by experts from several countries. Similar to recommendations in the medical sector, they will be updated accordingly.

The interventions serve as a foundation of knowledge applicable across borders. Experts can customise or adapt them to address the unique needs of their local populations.

Along with the literature review, we have collected best practices from local experts in the Ogun state of Nigeria. Soon, we will share best practices of local experts from additional countries.These will reflect the experiences of local professionals, offering practical guidance for individuals and organisations within a particular geographical context.

Together, the international literature and local best practices form a comprehensive set of evidence-based guidelines. HiiL’s prof. dr. Maurits Barendrecht, Tim Verheij, Isabella Banks and Manasi Nikam have developed the methodology of developing guidelines for different justice issues. The Family Justice Catalogue that was created in Uganda is the first guideline that we put into practice. A team of local researchers and practitioners developed it. Local legal aid organisations are now starting to implement the Catalogue in their working structures. More countries will follow.

More research where interventions are systematically compared and evaluated is needed. 

Stories From The Field

We spoke to a few justice practitioners in Uganda about their experience of implementing recommendations from the Family Justice Catalogue to resolve family problems. Watch the video to find out what they have to say. 


"I would like to call upon justice practitioners to use the Family Justice Catalogue, to make sure that what they are trying is not prescriptive of what the law says but is centred on the outcomes the justice seeker who approaches you wants."

To Whom Is This Guideline Addressed?

A broad range of family justice practitioners can use this guideline. We have designed the recommendations to be actionable and applicable to the different roles that these practitioners take. Throughout the entire process of preventing and resolving issues, practitioners and other helpers need recommendations to support them in their work:
  • Providing information and advice to set norms or contain the dispute are important first steps of a resolution process. Often, family members and friends take this role. Therapists are paid to provide a party in a dispute with this service.
  • Mediators and therapists are there to have parties convene and communicate with each other. They support both parties at the same time.
  • In resolving the dispute, lawyers, paralegals and judges often play a role as well. Solutions are being shaped and where needed decisions are made.
  • After agreements are concluded, they might need improvement over time. People’s needs change. Practitioners feel the need to keep overview and ensure that people got the outcomes they need.

Combining research and shared practices
help people reach fair solutions

In this section, you can find 21 recommendations linked to building blocks or categories of interventions that can prevent or resolve family problems. You can also find best practices of experts from Ogun state. Soon we will add best practices of experts from more countries. 

Together, this set of evidence-based guidelines can help justice workers broaden their method of preventing and resolving disputes beyond personal experience and disciplinary knowledge. Individual parties to family disputes would also benefit from the guidelines, as they often work to prevent and resolve disputes themselves. 

Building blocks

These are the building blocks for family justice issues. Find out more about the building blocks here.


See 21 recommendations that have been validated by experts from several countries. Find out more about the guideline method here.

Preventing (1)
Parents can help prevent problems with their children by proactively setting norms.
Preventing (1)
Applying authoritative parenting by parents is beneficial to their children’s well-being.

Limiting the disclosure of inappropriate information to children can be beneficial to their well-being.
Preventing (2)
Family violence and harassment needs containing. Exposing violence and monitoring may be effective to stop it. Holding abusive partners in detention and rehabilitating the abused partner and children in safe houses might be needed.
Preventing (2)
Communicating (1)
Respectful communication is essential. Families, and professionals assisting them, should first work on family members respecting each other as a person.
Communicating (1)
Families can do an intake with a practitioner who can help to find out what their needs are. Based on that an assessment of the most effective intervention can be done by the practitioner.

Communicating in a mutually constructive way can help parents to find solutions in a respectful manner.
Communicating (2)
When family problems do arise, it helps to be engaging with one another and communicating in a way that promotes understanding. Family members, and the ones assisting them, need to identify what the needs of parents and children are.
Communicating (2)
Cooperation and interaction are key in communication between parents.
Resolving (1)
In order to shape solutions, families can brainstorm about possible ways in which their underlying needs can be addressed.
Resolving (1)
Separating parents can find ways to generate income and become less dependent on each other.

In order to find solutions, a “problem-solving approach” can be taken that focuses on agreeing and finding solutions for their underlying needs.
Resolving (2)
Finding fair ways to share costs and benefits are a big step towards solutions. There are some concrete topics that parents should agree on in order to be able to move on.
Resolving (2)
Examples on sharing are agreements on housing, spousal maintenance and on child support:
Resolving (3)
After this problem solving process, achieving closure and acceptance of the new situation and the responsibilities it brings, is essential. Parties need to accept what has been agreed upon.
Resolving (3)
It is important to think about what helps to create compliance and to have follow up meetings where further improvement takes place.

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