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The Settlement-Orientation vs. the Problem-Solving Style in Custody Mediation

Kressel, Kenneth; Frontera, Edward A.; Forlenza, Samuel; Fish, Linda; Butler, Frances. Journal of Social Issues, Volume 50(1): 67-84, Spring 1994

This article reports the results of an investigation into mediator styles and their relationship to the process and outcomes of child and visitation custody mediation. The article recognized two distinctive mediator styles: settlement-oriented and problem-solving. The settlement-oriented mediator was concerned with achieving settlement independent of the quality of the agreements reached, often leaving the underlying reasons for the conflict unaddressed. Conversely, problem-solving mediators conducted an active search for attitudes and behaviors fueling the conflict and were able to present the parties with more considered proposals. The settlement-oriented mediation style worked best for cases with low levels of conflict, but impeded settlement in high-level conflict disputes. Problem-solving mediation was more likely to produce favorable outcomes and tended to generate more durable agreements.


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Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
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