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Divorce Mediation: Research and Reflections

Emery, Robert E.; Sbarra, David; Grover, Tara. Family Court Review, 43(1): 22-37, January 2005

This is a follow-up to the Charlottesville Mediation Project Study that looks at the long-term effect of random assignment to mediation on family relationships, psychological adjustment of the parents, and changes to agreements after settlement or case closure over twelve years. A total of 71 cases were included in this study. The study found that parents who mediated made more changes to their agreement over twelve years: 1.4 as compared to 0.3. Party satisfaction remained higher for the mediation group after twelve years than for the non-mediation group. Mediation led to greater contact between non-residential parents and children (30% of the mediation group parents saw their children once a week or more, compared to 9% for the non-mediation group; 39% of non-residential parents in the non-mediation group saw their children one time or less in the last year as compared to 15% of mediation parents). Non-residential parents in the mediation group are significantly more likely to discuss problems with residential parents, and significantly more likely to be involved in childrearing decisions. No difference was found twelve years later in the mental health of children and parents.