Mediation’s Persistent Benefits For Families In Divorce Or Child Custody Disputes
The Science Of Latest Studies Leaves No Doubt As To Divorce Mediation’s Long-Lasting And Positive Effects
As full-time family and divorce mediators for many years, we know firsthand the very real benefits of divorce and child custody mediation, and many folks approaching divorce have heard mediation can save costs and time, and preserve control over their after-divorce future. Most divorcing or separated parents also understand from their own or others’ experience that litigation of divorce, child custody or parenting disputes often results in costly and emotionally destructive battles with harmful effects on the parties and especially on their children.
Recent scientific research now confirms these beliefs and demonstrates the long-term benefits of mediation for custody disputes or divorces involving children.
As detailed in his latest book, The Truth About Children and Divorce, nationally recognized divorce researcher, therapist and family mediator Robert Emery, Ph.D., has released his striking studies conducted with the highest scientific standards and contrasting the long-term experience of couples randomly assigned to mediation rather than litigation of their divorce or custody disputes.
Dr. Emery’s studies at the University of Virginia’s Center for Children, Families and the Law used completely random assignment to ensure that both divorce mediation and litigation groups included the full spectrum of couples as characterized by their styles of relating with each other. Divorce or custody dispute couples evaluated as “cooperative” “distant” and “angry” were randomly distributed to both groups.
Dr. Emery’s studies demonstrate an astonishing and persistent benefit to the families of couples taking control of their own destiny and attempting to work out their own agreements in mediation.
Divorce Mediation’s Astonishing Costs/Benefits: A Modest Investment Of Time Brings Persistent Positive Effects On Parent-Child Relationships
Consider that twelve (12) years later after an average of only five (5) hours of mediation at the time of the parties’ divorce …
28% of the nonresidential parents who mediated saw their children at least once a week, in comparison with 9% of parents who were assigned by the study to resolve their divorce or custody dispute by litigation!
36% of nonresidential parents who litigated had not seen their children in the last year, in comparison with 16% of divorcing parents who were assigned to mediation!
Among divorce families who mediated, fully 59% of nonresidential parents talked to their children weekly or more often, compared with just 14% of nonresidential parents who litigated!
Finally, in comparison with families who went to court, the residential parent of divorcing couples who mediated, consistently reported that the nonresidential parent discussed problems with them more and participated more in the children’s discipline, grooming, religious training, errands, special events, school and church functions, recreational activities, holidays and vacations!
Contrast these families’ level of cooperation in the following chart used with permission from Dr. Emery:
In short, the scientific evidence of recent studies makes clear what many divorce professionals have long known:
No choice you make as a separated or divorcing parent can be as influential on your family’s future as whether you choose divorce mediation or litigation.
In Dr. Emery’s words: “How you negotiate your divorce settlement (including your choice to use divorce mediation or litigation) is going to start you down a path that you will be walking for many, many years.”
Highlights of Dr. Emery’s studies − with charts contrasting the experiences of families choosing divorce mediation and those using litigation − are also available in a Microsoft PowerPoint outline (The Truth About Divorce and Children). (This is a large file, and requires Microsoft Office PowerPoint to access and review.)
Also see our website’s section on Why Choose Divorce Mediation? for other compelling reasons to consider mediation of your divorce, child custody or other parenting dispute.
Consider, too, our website’s acclaimed Frequently Asked Questions and Myths resources, where we answer other questions and debunk commonly held misunderstandings − regarding Colorado divorce laws, court procedures and alternative dispute resolution alternatives, such as family mediation.