The Women’s General Association of Macau is calling on the government to make legislative changes that would see mediation become a mainstream tool used to resolve family disputes – rather than divorce courts, reports Hoje Macau.
The association says that mediation is an under-utilised yet potentially highly effective way to avoid drawn-out and costly divorce proceedings, especially when children are involved.
According to its vice president, Loi I Weng, the association has done everything in its power to promote mediation in family disputes. However, she said that Macao’s laws prevent the practice from becoming more popular.
A revision to Macao’s Civil Code that allows divorce by mutual consent to be carried out at the Civil Registry Office is currently under legislative review, Hoje Macau says. If approved, the revision would require courts and the Public Prosecutor’s Office to handle any disputes in relation to minors.
Loi argues that “professionally qualified private institutions and social service units for family mediation services” are better positioned to prioritise minors’ needs. Turning to them would reduce the administrative burden of the judicial system, too, she added.
She also wants the government to increase its support of private organisations that specialise in family mediation and provide social services for divorced couples and their children.
“[Mediation] promotes social and family harmony and increases the protection of the rights and interests of minors,” she told Hoje Macau.
A survey conducted by the association earlier this year found that most people who sought the association’s help were experiencing a lack of spousal consensus during divorce court proceedings.
Reasons for disputes are often related to custody agreements, alimony, and asset division. The association noted that dragging these sorts of disputes out has a detrimental impact on children’s well-being.