In our last post, we spoke briefly about several common classifications or approaches to mediation. As we mentioned, both the facilitative and evaluative forms of mediation have as their goal to reach a settlement, but facilitative mediation aims to do so by identifying the positions and interests of the parties and helping them to come to a mutually acceptable resolution to the dispute whereas evaluative mediation focuses more on likely outcomes of litigation if the parties were to proceed to the adversarial process to resolve their dispute. By contrast to both of these approaches, transformative mediation is less focused on how a settlement can be reached and more concerned with empowering parties to make decisions.
Couples who are in a position to consider divorce mediation, of course, would do well to work with a mediator who has an appreciation of each of these forms of mediation, has potential strengths and weaknesses. Facilitative mediation is a very common—and arguably the foundational—form of mediation. A mediator who has strong facilitative skills is able to help parties to identify where the dispute lies and what matters to them while opening up to the interests of the other party in looking finding common ground.
This is all very important in the process of coming to an agreement, particularly because divorce is often a contentious process to go though and a mediator skilled in facilitating respectful and effective communication is critical. The weakness of facilitative mediation is that, in and of itself, it may not give divorcing couples the perspective they need to evaluate their respective positions from a legal perspective or the perspective and encouragement to address aspects of the relationship which might be preventing them from having better control over the outcome of the case.
In our next post, we’ll continue with this discussion by looking at the relative strengths and weaknesses of the other forms of mediation we have mentioned.