This introductory chapter presents the organization and the rationale of the book. This book examines the late twentieth-century paradigm shift in family dispute resolution and compares it with more recent changes in the structure and composition of today's families. Focusing on disputes among family members, it asks whether the current dispute resolution regime responds adequately to the needs of the families it aims to serve. The book then argues that while the new paradigm may represent an improvement over its more adversary predecessor, it is built largely around the model of a divorcing nuclear family—a model that fits poorly with the more complicated realities of today's disputing families. Moreover, the new paradigm largely fails to acknowledge that some parents and children need the protections afforded by traditional legal processes and authoritative third-party decision-making.
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