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Neutral Mediator - Value Dilemmas in Divorce Mediation

NCJ Number
Mediation Quarterly Issue: 4 Dated: (June 1984) Pages: 61-74
S E Bernard; J P Folger; H R Weingarten; Z R Zuneta
Date Published
14 pages
In this paper, ethical and value issues facing the divorce mediator are considered and highlighted by two case examples.
in divorce mediation, the practitioner must choose to act either as a neutral, facilitative third party; as a proponent of a just and fair settlement; as a protector of a weak party; or as some combination of these. In mediation, the settlement strategy, the extent to which the mediator seeks to shape the outcome, is of central importance. Settlement strategies fall along a continuum from neutral to interventionist, with option-enhancing and empowerment through information strategies falling somewhere in between. The mediator's choice of strategy will be influenced by his values. The values involved include conflict versus consensus, justice, self-determination, and moral conceptions of the family. All of these value positions influence the mediator away from the theoretically desirable neutral stance. As pure neutrality is very difficult to achieve and sustain, an alternate position is proposed. The mediator can identify and share with the parties his own value preferences. Although the neutral strategy is recommended, deviation from this stance should be explicitly and deliberately chosen and justified. By sharing value preferences, the mediator enables the parties to retain some control over the influence exerted by the mediator. Provided are 21 references.


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