Mediation is an important tool in family law, and continues to play an increasing role in the settlement of disputes.
What many people do not know, is that there are many different established approaches to mediation in family law. Although each of these approaches has the same general objective – to resolve disputes between family members or family law litigants – they take different routes to that intended goal.
Here are three of the most popular/most often used models of mediation in family law:
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The evaluative style is focused mainly on the specific problem between the parties, and essentially parallels a settlement conference with a judge. An evaluative mediator helps the parties reach agreement by examining the strengths and weaknesses of their respective positions, pointing out the costs and benefits of pursing a resolution in court, and will make formal or informal recommendations.
This type of mediation focuses on the relationship and dynamic between the parties, and strives to have each of them recognize the needs, interests, values, and points of view of the other. A transformative mediator will also concentrate on helping each party become “empowered”, and will identify both the structure and process of the mediation that will best help both parties take responsibility for and achieve their respective goals.
The facilitative approach to mediation is like the evaluative model, in that it tends to focus on the problem between the parties, rather than on their relationship or interactions. A facilitative mediator will aim to help – i.e. facilitate – the parties to reach a mutually-agreeable resolution themselves. But unlike evaluative mediation, a facilitative mediator does not evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s position, give advice, or make recommendations; rather, the parties themselves remain responsible for the outcome.
Despite these three categories, mediation is not an all-or-nothing proposition: good mediators will either use a mediation approach that best lends itself to the particular parties and issues at hand, or will use a blend of approaches to suit the situation.
Do you have a question about mediation and the various approaches? Contact us for a consultation.