What is a Successful Mediation?

What is a successful mediation?

Authors Bush and Folger[1] speak of the power of mediation to resolve divorces. The methodologies of mediation are very well suited for resolving conflicts between people that have been in close or personal relationships or for those that will be tied together in the future – such as when there are children.

The ultimate goal of mediation is to resolve all of the legal issues related to a separation on a final basis in a manner that serves the interests of both parties and their families. But even if mediation terminates before a final agreement has been reached, the mediation process can still be considered successful for families.

Mediation would be considered successful if any of these factors were achieved:

  1. It allowed the parties to open a channel of communication when none existed, even if it is only for a limited time.
  2. Parties have reached some agreement(s) on some issues; either temporary agreements (agreements that only last for a defined period of time) or partial agreements (agreements that cover some but not all of the issues).
  3. If any of points 1 or 2 has made the legal separation process less expensive than if the parties had not tried mediation.
  4. If any of points 1 to 3 has given some hope or relief to a party or a child of the family.
  5. The parties have reached a final agreement on all issues.

Mediation can therefore be extremely positive even if the process were to end before a final agreement has been reached. Mediation has a high success rate.

While I see mediation having tremendous value to the families that I have the privilege of helping, there are some circumstances when I would not recommend mediation. Making the decision to choose mediation or any other type of process requires some understanding of all of the options. This ensures that the choice of process will be beneficial to your family needs.

People who face a separation should consult with more than one professional to make sure that they are explained the pros and cons of the several process options. Beware that some lawyers may not be inclined to propose processes that they do not practice in.

Some of the circumstances when I would not recommend mediation or other types of out of court processes include:

  • There is urgency and if it remains unresolved it will prejudice the legal position of the other person. Examples include money being dissipated or people threatening to take children out of the country;
  • Someone is afraid for their or their children’s safety;
  • There is serious lack of trust;
  • Untreated mental illness; or
  • Uncontrolled addiction.

Getting sound legal advice about the different processes is crucial to ensure you choose the process that best meets you and your family needs.


[1]In the second edition of the award winning book “The Promise of Mediation: The transformative approach to conflict”[1],

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