Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

R. L. Liora Salter


This thesis considers the potential for tribunal adjudication in family law, particularly for custody and access cases. The central argument is that a paradigm shift away from adversarialism may enable experimentation with a holistic tribunal-based family law settlement system, at least for family law cases in which a best-interests-of-the-child determination is required. It is suggested that within a holistic tribunal settlement system, multi-disciplinary mediators and adjudicators could share decision-making responsibility, nurture tribunal expertise and develop transparent decision-making guidelines, while adjudication could be relegated to a secondary, inquisitorial component. New empirical research on mediation and adjudication processes in selected tribunals is reported, which I argue is relevant to the potential for an alternative institutional approach to family law dispute resolution. I conclude that there appears to be sufficient potential for a tribunal approach to family law dispute resolution to warrant further research.


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