This study compares child-focused (CF) mediation and child-inclusive (CI) mediation to normal family mediation (mediation as usual – MAU). In the two child-centered mediation processes, a children’s consultant attended mediation and figuratively brought “the child into the room”. In both, discussion focused on issues based on research into the children’s well-being. In CI mediation, the consultant also interviewed the child and summarized for the parents what the child said. The study looked at the parents’ and mediators’ satisfaction with the process, settlement rate, and elements of the agreements reached. It included 69 mediations conducted over two years.
Parents who agreed to participate in the study were randomly assigned to one of the three processes (parents with children under the age of 5 were not assigned to child-informed mediation). After the mediation, parents and mediators completed surveys about their experience. The content of the 57 agreements for these cases was coded for legal and physical custody, parenting time and child support. Other items coded were future communication between the parents, provisions for child safety and child-related ration
The study found that CF and CI mediations led to significantly different agreements than those reached in MAU. They led to provisions that were seen to be more likely to promote the well-being of the child. There was, however, no difference in parental satisfaction between the three processes, and no difference in settlement rate. Mediators were more satisfied (though not significantly) with CF and CI mediation than MAU.
Please note this resource is online but is behind a paywall and requires a subscription to access.