What Everyone considering Divorce Mediation should know about Mediator Styles

Not all divorce mediators have the same education, training, and experience, and thus their mediation “style”, how they conduct the mediation, is likely to be very different. For example, a mediator educated, trained, and experienced as a trial lawyer is apt to conduct him or herself much like a judge, telling the mediating parties who is right or wrong, who would win or lose, and the like. On the other hand, a mediator educated, trained, and experienced as mental health professional is likely to focus on the emotions that typically underlie the decisions made by mediating parties when deciding how to divide assets and debts, co-parent any minor children, and calculate support arrangements. Accordingly, it would be prudent for everyone considering Scottsdale divorce mediation to be aware of the following mediator styles.


The “evaluative” approach means that the mediator will be asked to, or will offer to provide, his or her views on the participants’ positions. Based on past experience and familiarity with the law, the mediator will render an opinion on the likely outcome of a case should it proceed to court. If the mediator is a qualified psychologist, the mediator may offer an opinion on the likely effect certain resolutions may have on other people who may be impacted by a resolution, such as children in divorce mediation. This approach stops short to telling the parties what the mediator thinks the parties should do.


The mediator who uses a directive approach takes a strong lead in directing the participants through each stage of the mediation, suggesting what offers or alternatives might be acceptable, and even perhaps urging the parties toward a particular resolution. This approach may go a step further than the “evaluative” approach – it says “This is the way I perceive your case and the risks, and therefore it is my opinion that I think you should strongly consider settling for…”

The Styles of Scottsdale Arizona Divorce Mediators


This approach focuses less on achieving a resolution of a past dispute, and more on achieving increased awareness by the parties of underlying interests and needs, so that they can not only resolve a current issue but create a better relationship for the future between the parties. As such, very few if any divorce mediators use this approach.


This approach calls for private pre-mediation sessions with each participant. It places heavy reliance on the efficacy of empathy and compassion in resolving interpersonal disputes. It is most often employed in “victim-offender” disputes arising out the criminal justice systems, not divorce situations.


Facilitative mediation refers to an approach to mediation where the mediator assists or facilitates the parties to communicate and negotiate. The facilitative mediator generates questions repeatedly designed to elicit information from the parties about what it is they are concerned about, what they want, and what they may be willing to do to obtain a resolution. Mediators who adhere to this style don’t offer opinions about the strength of weakness of each participant’s positions, the likelihood of their succeeding in court, or about what the best resolution might be.


This approach calls for the mediator to be adaptive to the nature of the dispute and the parties involved. Unlike mediators who adhere to one of the foregoing styles, Situational mediators combine the best aspects of the evaluative, directive, and facilitative styles. They facilitate effective communications and negotiations, offer different options and alternatives for resolution of issues, uncover emotional interests (such as the need for equality, safety, security, and respect), and provide legal, financial, tax, and other information – all for the purpose of ensuring that a divorcing couple, individually and together, make fully informed decisions about each and every aspect of their situation.

Author Oliver Ross Mediator Written By:
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