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Divorce Mediation and Its Emotional Impact on the Couple and Their Children

NCJ Number
American Journal of Family Therapy Volume: 12 Issue: 3 Dated: (Fall 1984) Pages: 58-66
F W Kaslow
Date Published
9 pages
Divorce mediation, as opposed to the adversarial approach, helps persons cope constructively with the problems and tasks accompanying divorce and contributes to a more rapid and solid personality reintegration and lifestyle restabilization following divorce.
In a litigated divorce, an attorney represents only his or her client, and the ensuing battle often produces bitterness, anguish, and trauma for both parents and their children. On the other hand, mediation can diminish despair, helplessness, and anger as people are encouraged to decide for themselves how to distribute their assets and make arrangements for their children. Mediating divorce requires the skills of a family therapist, knowledge of family law, and the skills of a labor arbitrator. Mediating financial issues requires parties to draw up budgets, evaluate financial statements, and list outstanding debts. With regard to custody, mediators tend to encourage each adult to see the other's parental strengths and the children's need to stay attached to both parents without feeling disloyal to either. Mediators should also examine how the couple has been dealing with their children's perceptions and reactions. Mediation is not a panacea and may not be appropriate in cases where there is a tremendous power disparity. During custody negotiations, mediators should ask questions about music lessons, illness, and similar matters to make parents aware of the demands of single parenthood. A clear and specific visitation plan should be written. Some mediators ask clients to return at 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year intervals to assess how the agreement is working and renegotiate any nonfunctional clauses. A table outlines states in the divorce process through a 'diaclectic' model, and 22 references are supplied.