The authors describe the Charlottesville Mediation Project, including its model of co-mediating custody disputes, and summarize the results of their study. They found that the majority of cases settle in mediation, settlements were reached far more quickly in mediation and the majority of participants were satisfied with the process.
Description of Study: Compared time to settlement, satisfaction, and psychological adjustment of participants in mediated and non-mediated cases.
Method: Cases were randomly assigned to mediation or to traditional settlement. Examined court records for agreement rates and time to settlement. Surveyed participants for satisfaction and psychological adjustment.
Comparison Groups: Cases randomly assigned to mediation and cases assigned to traditional settlement
Sample Size: 35 mediated cases and 36 non-mediated cases
Variables Examined: Agreement rates, time to settlement, protection of rights, whether participants won what they wanted, effect on children, psychological adjustment of participants
Program Variables: Mandatory mediation offered free to participants at the courthouse. Mediation was a combination of problem solving and therapeutic mediation.
Findings: The agreement rate was 77% for the mediation group, 31% for the adversary group. Time to settlement was three weeks in mediation and seven weeks in adversary settlement. There was no difference in women's perception of their rights being protected in either process. Men more often felt mediation protected their rights and gave them what they wanted. Women more often thought they won what they wanted in litigation. Both men and women thought mediation had a better effect on their children than adjudication. There was no difference in psychological adjustment for men or women based on the process used.