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Divorce Mediation - Mediator's Role

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaDivorceDivorce Mediation - Divorce Mediation Process, Models Of Mediation, Mediator's Role, Advantages Of Mediation, Disadvantages Of Mediation

Mediator's Role

Traditional theoretical formulations of the mediator's role are being reexamined. The traditional view of mediator was that of a neutral, honest facilitator of couples' decision-making processes (Emery 1994), with neutrality being the hallmark of mediator role. Neutrality has been defined as "scrupulously giving each disputant equal attention and doing exactly what is needed by each disputant" (Cohen, Dattner, and Luxenburg 1999, p. 342), being impartial and showing equidistance (Beck and Sales 2001; Cohen, Dattner, and Luxenburg 1999). Impartiality involves creating and maintaining an unbiased relationship with the disputants. Equidistance refers to the mediator's ability to have each disputant tell their position (i.e., balance the conversation so each has equal power in session). Connie J. A. Beck and Bruce D. Sales (2001) found numerous mediation researchers advocating against adopting an impartial stance as mediator. Cohen, Dattner, and Luxenburg (1999) have argued that mediators need to attend more to children's needs and assume a child advocacy role (Menin 2000). Those mediators whose training is in, for example, counseling, psychology, and social work, versus law can more easily adopt such an advocacy role (Cohen, Dattner, and Luxenburg 1999). Given that mediators are a diversely trained group, it is not surprising that some argue for clarity of training, standards, and mediator assessment (Bagshaw 1999; Bronson 2000). Ultimately the process of mediation, across all countries, needs improvement through professional standards (Bagshaw 1999).

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