Research project on trajectory mediation

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    Onderzoek trajectbemiddelingRecherche sur la médiation de trajetResearch project on trajectory mediation

    1. General aim of the research on trajectory mediation
    2. What is trajectory mediation
    3. Use of trajectory mediation and participation in the research
    4. Course of the research
    5. Further explanation of the research in court
    6. Example trajectory mediation and further explanation of participating in this research
    7. Helpline and questions

    1. General aim of the research on trajectory mediation

    Families in transition

    Family disputes can have a great impact on all family members and their mutual relationships. The FittiF-research on trajectory mediation is aiming at providing optimum guidance and support to the changes or transitions provoked by these disputes.

    Which family disputes?

    There are a number of situations that can cause tension and dispute in a family, such as a break-up with the partner, a divorce, problems with the (ex-)partner about the children, property/family home, problems about the contact between grandparents and (grand)children, domestic violence, problems about a donation, an inheritance, a will,…

    In our research we focus on all these situations that can lead to a dispute in a family.

    How to find a solution?

    Although there are several ways to reach a solution for the foregoing situations, the different ‘ways of solution’ or ‘trajectories’ are little-known to the general public. A first goal of our research is therefore to inform people about the possible existing paths. This is called ‘trajectory mediation’.

    2. What is trajectory mediation?

    What is trajectory mediation?

    Trajectory mediation means that people in a dispute search for the best way for them to find a solution. Specifically, this means that a trajectory mediator will explain them the different possibilities to deal with this dispute. He helps them to negotiate, so that they can come to an agreement themselves about the path they both want to follow to solve their dispute (for example mediation, amicable settlement, a legal procedure,…).

    Which paths exist?

    A trajectory is a path to one of the two possible solutions of a dispute: an agreement or a judgement. If people in a dispute choose an agreement, then they can either negotiate it themselves, or they can let professionals (such as a mediator, a notary, a lawyer or a settlement judge in the chambers of amicable settlement) guide that negotiation. If they choose a judgement, an independent judge will take the decision.

    What is being discussed during the trajectory mediation?

    During the meeting with the trajectory mediator, the following subjets will be discussed among other:

    • What is your situation at the moment?
    • What are your differences of opinion about?
    • Which ways to solution are there for your differences of opinion?
    • What are the possible pro’s and con’s of each path to solution?
    • What is the possible influence of the path you will follow on your relationship?

    Which principles does the trajectory mediator use?

    - People are perfectly able to choose the way to solve their dispute themselves, but in many cases they have too little information to choose a carefully thought-out solution. A professional does not solve the problem by choosing the path instead of his client, but by informing his client in a didactical manner.

    - A trajectory mediator helps people to negotiate efficiently. He does so by guarding rules, questioning points of view and being considerate to what both find important.

    - Trajectory mediation wants to stimulate people to make all important decisions themselves, including the decision on how to handle the dispute. It is up to the trajectory mediator to guard that all parties are well informed and decide deliberately on how to solve their dispute. Under no circumstance the trajectory mediator may decide instead of the clients.

    - A trajectory mediator gives information, not advice. A trajectory mediator translates information to people’s situations and makes sure that all information is clear for both of them.

    - A trajectory mediator helps people to negotiate equally. He does so by working just as well for both, installing balance between the clients and not allowing a unilateral exercise of power. He ensures that both parties have an equal influence on the choice of the path of solution. From the outset, he takes care of the balance between the clients.

    3. Use of trajectory mediation and participation in the research

    With our research on trajectory mediation we want to inform people about the different ways to deal with family disputes. Although knowledge about the different ways to solve these disputes is important, many people are not sufficiently aware of those possibilities or the actual impact of a choice for a certain path.

    We want to remedy this, because well informed people can choose the solution that best fits their needs more easily. That is what we would like to accomplish with our research: that people who have to make difficult decisions in their lives, find the best way for them to get out of that dispute and that they feel good about it afterwards.

    Which way one takes to solve his dispute with someone else, can have a lot of consequences on that dispute, the relationship with the other person and how one feels himself. It is therefore important that people choose the path, that fits them best.

    4. Course of the research

    We will offer trajectory mediation to anyone who presents himself with a family dispute to the following professionals:

    - Region of Ghent: CAW Ghent, house of justice Ghent, family court Ghent (in the first instance and court of appeal)

    - Region of Antwerp and Limburg: CAW Limburg and family court Antwerp (in the first instance and court of appeal).

    The content of that family dispute can be very diverse (see 1. General aim ‘which conflicts’). Only acknowledged mediators who were trained specifically for this research, will conduct these conversations.

    The research contains several stages, which we explain below:

    1 - From the CAW, house of justice or court you received information about the research project:

    - You decide to participate and get an appointment with a trajectory mediator (whether or not together with the person/people you have a dispute with).

    - In preparation of this conversation, you fill in a questionnaire at home.

    2 Conversation with the trajectory mediator at the CAW, house of justice or court:

    - At the CAW/house of justice/court itself, a conversation with the trajectory mediator will take place (in a separate room). This conversation is offered for free within the scope of this research. The conversation lasts about 1 hour. Before and after the conversation you need to fill in a few questions whereby the total appointment will last approximately 1h30 – 2 hours. These questions gauge your experience of the conversation.

    3 Keeping track of the chosen path:

    - After the trajectory mediation we ask you to keep a document in which you can keep track of your chosen way to solve your dispute. The goal is to briefly note down a few details about each consultation (for example an appointment with a mediator, the appearance in court, a consultation with your lawyers, a negotiation moment between lawyers,…). The trajectory mediator will explain you how to fill in this document.

    4 Follow-up:

    - 6, 12 and 24 months after the trajectory mediation we will ask you again to fill in a questionnaire. After all, the search for solutions for family disputes implies a process and also how you think and feel about your family dispute can be different in a few months.


    Those who wish not to have a trajectory mediation conversation, but do wish to help our research by filling in a short questionnaire, can do so.

    Important information

    1. Your participation is totally voluntarily. If you wish not to participate, there are no consequences for the help you will further receive, or the course of your legal procedure.
    2. If you do wish to participate, you are completely free in your choice of a certain way to solve your dispute or to change the path you want to follow. If you would choose mediation as a way to solve your dispute after the trajectory mediation, then the trajectory mediator cannot act as the mediator himself.
    3. Your data will be treated confidentially. Besides the researchers, no one will be able to take a look at your answers. Neither the researchers nor the trajectory mediators will pass on information to the CAW, house of justice or family court.
    4. The trajectory mediation conversation will be recorded (only audio). The questionnaires namely only represent what you think about the conversation. However, the researchers are also interested in what is being said during the conversation, both by you and the trajectory mediator. These recordings will also be treated with the utmost confidentiality.
    5. If you wish, you can bring along a counselor, lawyer or confidential advisor to the conversation with the trajectory mediator. However, this is only possible under the condition that the person you have a dispute with, agrees to it. Your children may not be present at this conversation.
    6. If you want, you can get support in filling in the questionnaires. In that case, a member of the research team will help you. This member will also treat your data strictly confidential and will not pass on any information.

    5. Further explanation of the research in court

    Information and decision to participate

    If you introduce a case in one of the participating family courts and you are eligible to participate in this research, you will receive from the court a letter and a brochure with information about the research. This letter will be added to your convocation letter.

    If you are interested to participate, you must be present at the initiatory session in court. There you can take the decision to collaborate, together with the person you have a dispute with. Thus, to be able to participate in this research, the person you have a dispute with, must also be present at the session in court.

    Conversation with the trajectory mediator and continuation of the procedure

    If both of you decide to participate in the research, then you can make an appointment with the trajectory mediator at the moment of the session in court. A member of the research team will be present in court to make this appointment with the trajectory mediator. The trajectory mediation conversation will take place another day, in a separate room in court.

    Before the conversation, you will fill in a questionnaire at home. Besides that, you need to fill in a brief questionnaire in court, the day of the conversation itself, right before and after the conversation.

    During the trajectory mediation conversation all kinds of topics will be discussed. For more information about what trajectory mediation is and what it contains, see 2. ‘What is trajectory mediation?’.

    A month after the initiatory session the judge will plan a new session for you, during which you (or your lawyers) let the judge know which path you chose to solve your dispute.

    6. Example trajectory mediation and further explanation of participating in this research

    Given below is a link to a few films. In these fragments you can see a trajectory mediator working. Further it is explained what participation in this research contains.

    Film general

    Film VCOK

    7. Helpline and questions

    People who wish to participate in the research and are confronted with specific issues or practical questions while going through the information websites or filling in the questionnaires, can contact our research team by one of the following ways:

    - via e-mail:

    - via telephone: 0471/33 99 37 on Tuesday from 4 till 6 pm and 0471/33 99 38 on Thursday from 6 till 8 pm.

    Anyone with general questions concerning content of this research, can contact one of the researchers (see ‘contact’).