Mediation vs. Litigation: An Extensive Review of an Alternate Resolution to Child Custody Disputes

Jordan Braciszewski, Michigan State University

Over the last 15 years, much research has been done on the effects of using mediation as opposed to litigation in child custody disputes. Mediation involves a non-bias third party, usually a social worker or someone in the mental health field; done in the same way for civil disputes. The mutually exclusive third party sits with the family and makes an assessment for custody. It has been found that mediation may facilitate such things as better and quicker adjustment, increased coping ability, parents' time spent with children, communication both between parent/child and also interparent cooperation. Mediation also minimizes the "cat fight" qualities that come out of litigation. There will be a thorough review of available literature from the mid-1980's to the present. Robert Emory, PhD of the University of Virginia, has done most of the work that will be looked at. The psychology behind these two approaches will also be studied. Mediation seems to be an excellent way to resolve divorce and child custody issues for all parties involved. The data available shows promising results that mediation should and will take precedence over litigation.

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Updated 05/20/2006