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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 93214 Find in a Library
Title: Benefits Outweigh the Costs
Journal: Family Advocate  Volume:4  Issue:3  Dated:(1982)  Pages:26,28-32
Author(s): J Pearson; N Thoennes
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 6
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A cost-benefit analysis of the Denver Custody Mediation Project found that mediation, compared to adversarial proceedings, is a more effective way to resolve contested child custody disputes for divorced couples, and over the long-term it is less costly because of the reduction in the probability of relitigation.
Abstract: The analysis drew on the experiences of 95 persons who rejected the mediation offer, 54 persons who were randomly assigned to the adversarial control group, and 125 persons who participated in mediation, with 61 of these achieving mediation agreements and 64 failing to reach such agreements. The study found that those involved in mediation are more likely to stipulate custody and visitation arrangements than are their adversarial counterparts. They also report satisfaction with the process, because whether or not it results in an agreement, mediation improves communication and understanding between ex-spouses. Not only do those exposed to mediation opt for more joint custody arrangements, but they also report that the noncustodial parent engages in more visitation. Further, mediation clients do not appear to suffer financially in mediation; child support arrangements are generally comparable in all of the samples. Successful mediation clients also travel through the court system somewhat faster than do their adversarial counterparts, although the slowest movers are the unsuccessful mediation clients, since they use both adversarial and nonadversarial methods of dispute resolution. Some evidence of modest savings in attorney's fees is found among successful mediation clients. Savings are best realized if disputants are diverted to mediation before the promulgation of temporary orders. Moreover, compared to unsuccessful mediation-, reject-, and control-group samples, successful mediation clients are less likely to report problems with their court orders and more likely to report that their spouses are in total compliance. Overall, the benefits of mediation clearly outweigh the costs. Tabular data are provided.
Index Term(s): Alternative dispute settlement; Child custody; Colorado; Cost/Benefit Analysis; Mediation
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