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Mediation styles and their respective goals

In a recent Huffington Post article, attorney and mediator Laurie Israel provides an interesting discussion of the distinction between several types of mediation and the place of divorce, sometimes called marital, mediation within those distinctions. The discussion is an important one for couples who are entering into the process of divorce mediation, because having a deeper understanding of the goals of the mediation process can help make it more effective.

Israel distinguishes between several types of mediation: facilitative, evaluative and transformative. The most well-known type is facilitative mediation, which has the goal of helping parties to come to a mutually acceptable agreement regarding a dispute. The role of the mediator in this process is to help the parties identify their positions and interests, and to come to a sustainable agreement rather than to give advice.

Evaluative mediation is different in that the mediator’s role is to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s claims from a legal perspective. The mediator does this by looking at the facts of the case and predicting how a case would stand up in court. The aim is to reach an agreement in light of this legal evaluation. In the third type of mediation Israel identifies—transformative mediation—the goal is not necessarily to reach a settlement but to empower parties to make their own decisions. The idea with transformative mediation is that the mediation can be used to transform the character of the parties.

Not surprisingly, Israel points out that effective marital mediation has characteristics from each style of mediation. In our next post, we’ll look at this issue and what divorcing parties should keep in mind when seeking a mediator for their own case. 

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