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Mediation, Divorce and Children

Three professors at the University of Virginia recently completed a 12-year study that looked at the effects of mediation on divorcing couples and their children.  The study looked at people who were unable to come to agreement on custody decisions on their children and have petitioned the Virginia court for a hearing.  Thirty-five families were sent to mediation and thirty-six were sent through the court’s adversarial process.  The assignments were randomly done.

So what happened?

The mediation group:

  • Settled a large percentage of cases otherwise headed for court
  • Settled their disputes in half the time
  • Had increased satisfaction with the outcome
  • Parents in mediation were 80% more likely to make all decisions without a third-party decision maker (a judge or arbitrator)
  • When unable to come to full agreement in mediation, many parties still settled out of court
  • Parents were more satisfied at 6-weeks, 1.5 years and 12 years after the original agreement.
  • Long term family relationships and psychological adjustment were better in the mediation group
  • An average of 5 hours of mediation resulted in significant increases in child-parent contact over the 12 year period:
    • 30% of non-residential parents saw children once a week or more vs. 9 % of those in the adversary group
    • 54% of non-resident parents spoke to their children once a week vs. 11% of those in the adversary group

Please contact me for more information about divorce mediation.

http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1744-1617.2005.00005.x