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 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 recommendations on this page will be reviewed by external experts. Similar to recommendations in the medical sector, they will be updated accordingly.

HiiL’s prof. dr. Maurits Barendrecht, Tim Verheij, Isabella Banks and Manasi Nikam have developed the methodology 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. Combining research with experiences from justice practitioners make more solid recommendations, which are tailored to the local context.

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.

We have developed 21 recommendations so far. They can be applied by justice workers dealing with family problems to give people fair and effective solutions. Families who try to resolve disputes themselves can benefit from these recommendations as well.

The recommendations are linked to building blocks (or types of interventions) that can prevent or resolve family justice problems.

Combining research and shared practices help people reach fair solutions

Building blocks

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

Recommendations

Together, these recommendations form a guideline. 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)
Aftercare
It is important to think about what helps to create compliance and to have follow up meetings where further improvement takes place.
Aftercare
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