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Are All Mediators the Same?


Couples that decide to use mediation for their divorce process often don’t realize that there are three distinctly different styles of mediation.  It can be very confusing for the consumer, and you need to make sure you are educated before you shop. Most importantly, don’t hesitate to ask questions!  The three common styles of mediation are facilitative, evaluative, and transformative.

Facilitative Mediation

The mediator typically creates an atmosphere that encourages each party to have a voice in the process.   Powerful questions are asked to discover the underlying fears, concerns, and interests. The mediator does not typically make recommendations to the couple and encourages them to come to their own agreements on the various issues. Generally, all sessions are held jointly but are free to caucus, which is to have short meetings with each person individually.  More and more family law attorneys are embracing this type of mediation.

Evaluative Mediation

This style is far more brutal. The mediator will point out weaknesses in each person’s case and predict what a judge might do according to the law. Evaluative mediators are concerned with protecting the legal rights of either party rather than their needs or interests.

This style is often practiced using separate meetings with parties and their attorneys.  Referred to as “shuttle” style, the mediator moves back and forth from one office to another. The mediator makes recommendations to each party and directly influences the outcome. This type of mediation is typically tied to a litigated case to reach settlement prior to trial.

Transformative Mediation

Transformative mediation is based on “empowerment” and “recognition” by each of the parties of the other parties’ needs, interests, values, and points of view. The values are very similar to facilitative mediation.  The foundation of transformative mediation is the couple’s ability to structure their own solutions and process. The mediator follows their lead.

One of the keys to a more amicable divorce is empowering each of the parties. Both Facilitative and Transformative Mediation are in line with that goal.

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