Are All Mediators the Same?


Couples that decide to use mediation for their divorce process often don’t realize that there are three distinctly different styles of mediation. They vary greatly and the style your mediator is trained in will significantly impact the experience you are signing up for. This could prove to be confusing for you and your partner and you need to make sure you are educated as you begin searching for the mediator that is right for you. The three styles of mediation are facilitative, evaluative and transformative.

Facilitative Mediation

This is the earliest form of mediation introduced in the 1960s and 1970s. The mediator typically creates an atmosphere that encourages each party to have a voice in the process and the mediator asks powerful questions to elicit the underlying fears, concerns, and interests. The mediator doesn’t typically make recommendations to the couple and encourages them to come to their own agreements on the various issues. Generally, all sessions are held jointly but short meetings with each person individually is possible as well.

When facilitative mediation began, it was not necessary for the mediator to have extensive knowledge or experience in the area being mediated, so many had limited family law knowledge. That may still be the case today, but more family law lawyers are embracing the use of mediation as a good option for their clients.

Evaluative Mediation

This style was born out of the court system and modelled after the settlement conferences held by judges. This style is far more intensive and can be a bit more confrontational. The mediator will point out weaknesses in each person’s case, and predict what a judge might do according to the law. Evaluative mediators are concerned with protecting the legal rights of either party, rather than their needs or interests.

This style is often practiced using separate meetings with parties and their lawyers “shuttle” between meeting rooms, moving back and forth from one office to another. The evaluative mediator makes recommendations to each party and directly influences the outcome. This type of mediation is typically tied to a litigated case in an attempt to reach a settlement prior to trial.

Transformative Mediation

The newest concept in mediation, transformative mediation, was introduced by Folger and Bush in the book The Promise of Mediation in 1994. It is based on the empowerment of each of the parties and recognition by each of the parties of the other parties’ needs, interests, values, and points of view. The values are very similar to facilitative mediation. The foundation of transformative mediation is self-determination, the couple’s ability to structure their own solutions and process and the mediator follows their lead.

One of the keys to a more amicable divorce is empowering each of the parties. Both Facilitative and Transformative Mediation is in line with that goal.

For help with recommendations on a qualified divorce mediator, Please refer to the ‘Our Partners’ resource on our website.


About Lindsay Sparrow


Lindsay has worked as a Certified Financial Planner & Investment Advisor for the past two decades. Lindsay is a transition expert who does her best work when clients are going through a significant life change. As a Certified Financial Divorce Specialist, Lindsay makes sure her clients walk away with what is rightfully theirs. 

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