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Court-Sponsored Mediation of Divorce, Custody, Visitation and Support: Resolving Policy Issues

NCJ Number
State Court Journal Volume: 13 Issue: 1 Dated: (Winter 1989) Pages: 24-31
S Myers; G Gallas; R Hanson; S Keilitz
Date Published
7 pages
Divorce mediation research and policies are reviewed, and ways to resolve policy issues faced by judges, court administrators, and legislators in implementing divorce mediation programs are suggested.
Divorce mediation programs have different approaches to five organizational issues: program relationship to the court; methods of referring cases to mediation; scope of issues mediated and how child support guidelines affect the scope of negotiable issues; mediator role, qualifications, and professionalization; and management of court-associated mediation. Measurable outcomes of mediation include the rate of case settlement, the degree of compliance with settlements or court awards, the extent of relitigation after case resolution, and extent of time or money saved by disputants and the court. Divorce mediation research suggests that two basic policy issues must be resolved. First, strategies must be identified to determine whether mediation is cheaper, faster, and better than traditional litigation. Second, program structures, management approaches, and particular case types must be chosen for mediation that are likely to improve the quality and efficiency of dispute resolution. Criteria for evaluating mediation programs include efficiency, quality, and satisfaction. It is recommended that consideration be given to the possible benefits of court mediation programs, with the goal of minimizing the costs and difficulties of the litigation process. 48 references.