'Rainbow after the Storm': Improving dispute resolution for sexually and gender diverse families

                                                                  Picture of two men and boy

Since 2015, Dr Maria Federica Moscati has explored the needs of, and available provision for, sexually and gender diverse families – including same-sex couples and trans parents – who need support in resolving family disputes. She led the first comparative research on same-sex couples and family mediation in the EU, filling important gaps in the theory and practice of family mediation. 

She has collected data from semi-structured interviews with mediators, lawyers and same-sex couples, reviewed codes of practice of family mediation providers, analysed websites of family mediation practices and prepared informative materials for children on family mediation. 

Moscati’s recent publications on this topic include:

The main findings of her research are:

  • Recourse to mediation for sexually and gender diverse families is still limited;
  • In the jurisdictions analysed, there are no specific guidelines for mediators regarding mediation with sexually- and gender-diverse families ;
  • There is a lack of informative relevant material focusing on the needs of partners and children in sexually-and-gender diverse families ;
  • Mediators tend to assimilate members of sexually- and gender-diverse families, adopting the same styles and models of practice as they use for third party intervention in disputes within heterosexual and cisgender family settings ;
  • There is lack of awareness about the differences that exist between same-sex, trans, and non-binary partners and parents;
  • Debates and practices relating to the involvement of children during family mediation overlook the needs of children raised in non-hetero- and cis-normative families ;
  • Religion may influence dispute resolution between same-sex couples in several ways, including causing family disputes, determining whether and how to take legal steps, and influencing the mediation process ;
  • Domestic violence and abuse between lesbian partners can be a source of dispute and may influence the mediation process. 

Dr Moscati has delivered training and workshops to mediators, lawyers and magistrates in the UK and Italy. She has also disseminated her research within primary and secondary schools. These engagement activities have raised awareness among mediators, magistrates and lawyers on dispute resolution involving sexually and gender diverse families and their children. Mediation providers and legal practitioners have used her work to introduce policies on diversity, compulsory training on same-sex couples for mediators, and inclusive and gender neutral language in their communications material.   

The director of an Italian family mediation provider that has engaged Moscati to provide training on a regular basis affirmed: 'Over the years, the attitudes of the participants have definitely changed. In addition to the training module [the organisation] has improved its mediation forms to include gender-neutral language, previously based on the binary male/female distinction.’ 

Her work has also created new understanding at EU level of the diversity of family structures and what this means for professionals and service providers who work with families. It is contributing to more responsive and therefore effective mediation and dispute resolution services for sexually- and gender-diverse couples, families and children using them. 

Moscati has used her research in creative ways. She has used her empirical data on families as the basis for a child-friendly booklet, Rainbow After the Storm, which is available in five languages (Chinese, Croatian, Greek and Italian[MD1] ) and free to download. 

Overall, Dr Moscati's research aims to enhance equality. One participant in Moscati’s training in October 2020 stated ‘I think it [the training] will change my way of thinking and feeling and therefore of listening and understanding parents more free from prejudice’ while another said ‘I feel I have gained more tools to carry out work with non-heterosexual couples’. 


Duga nakon oluje: Mylo i njegovi idu kod izmiritelja


Rainbow after the storm: Mylo. i suoi due papà e la mediazione 





Tο ουράνιο τόξο μετά την καταιγίδα – Ο Μίλο και οι μπαμπάδες του πηγαίνουν στον διαμεσολαβητή