Mediation – Which Style is Right for You?

By: Christa Banfield, Esq.

You’ve now been able to read up on the pros and cons of mediation. Assuming you’ve decided that the pros outweigh the cons – and I’d opine they usually do – your next step is to think about the different types of mediation and decide which would best fit your needs.

There are three main styles or types of mediation- facilitative, evaluative, and transformative.

  • Facilitative mediation is the oldest style of the three. In this method, the mediator acts as a facilitator to get the parties to reach an agreement. Therefore, the mediator does not offer advice or recommendations, their role is really to keep the lines of communication open between the parties so that they can come to their own agreements. Facilitative mediators tend to have a background in dispute resolution. In facilitative mediation, the parties are likely to be in the same room with each other.
  • Evaluative mediation is the most common used in family law matters. In this method, the mediator will give advice and recommendations based on what they think a judge would do with the issues. They look at the mediation as a way to avoid the risk and expense of trial, and are less concerned with understanding or repairing the underlying relationship of the parties. Evaluative mediators tend to have a background in the legal field as either attorneys or judges. In evaluative mediation, the parties are likely to remain in separate rooms, with the mediator going back and forth between the two.
  • Transformative mediation is the newest of the three methods. As its name suggests, the mediator’s goal in this method is to “transform” the relationship of the parties involved by addressing the underlying issues and empowering the parties to work together again by getting them to recognize the other’s needs and concerns. Transformative mediators tend to have a background in the mental health profession. Because of its focus on repairing the underlying relationship, the parties must be in the same room with each other for this style of mediation.

The different styles set forth above focus on the role of the mediator and the parties involved. Another issue to consider is whether or not you want an attorney involved in your mediation. Many people are choosing to proceed with private mediation, in lieu of litigation, and forego even having their own attorneys present. The benefit to this method is that it keeps costs lower and has the potential to keep the process more low-key and amicable. Some people will choose a compromise -to attend private mediation without any attorneys present, but retain an attorney on a consulting basis so they can check in with that attorney should they have questions or concerns about how the process is going.

However, for many people it’s important to feel like they have a knowledgeable advocate next to them in this process. After all, in many divorces, you are dividing up the entirety of a couple’s life savings, making decisions that affect their daily finances, and divvying up responsibility for and time that they get to spend with their children. These are serious, life-changing matters that most people don’t take lightly by any means and may want a strong advocate with them in deliberating and making these decisions. Furthermore, as mentioned in last week’s blog, if you do not trust the other person involved or do not feel like you have the ability to stand up for yourself and your own interests adequately, a lawyer’s assistance may be invaluable.

Whichever style or form of mediation seems most suited to you and whether or not you feel involving an attorney is necessary, there is no shortage of options for pursuing some level of mediation. If you would like to speak with one of our experienced Attorneys to obtain more information about the options available to you, please call Owens & Perkins at 480.994.8824 to schedule your free 30-minute complimentary consultation.