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Core Principles of Mediation

Core Principles of Mediation

Do you think mediators are losing touch with the core principles behind mediation?



Full Transcript

I’m afraid so. Here as well. A phenomena here in the U.S.A., you know I’m particularly aware in the area of family, divorce, domestic situations that there are a bunch of roles that aren’t even called ‘mediator’ anymore. They’re called ‘early neutral evaluation’. There’s something that’s really, as I see it, kind of dysfunctional called a ‘parenting time expeditor’ or a ‘parenting consultant’. And those are people that have authority delegated to them by the judge to make decisions about parenting for people. The theory is that the parenting time expeditor or parenting consultant is supposed to mediate first and if that doesn’t lead to a conclusion, then they get to make a decision.


As you can imagine, the fact that they have the authority to make that decision, colours the process entirely and interferes in a big way with the parents having any sort of shift in how they’re relating to each other. It locks them into an adversarial relationship. So I hear you.


To me the legal system is so clear and has such a long tradition of the idea being that people plead their case and an authority figure makes a decision. The illusion of finality that that creates, the idea that once a decision is made and a document is signed, then it’s over. That’s another kind of bias of the legal system that ‘the document is what matters’ and so as long the legal culture is driving the market, there is that pull toward these more adversarial, more adjudicative, more evaluative approaches.


It’s another rationale for me being such a purist about what I do. It’s my way of distinguishing what I do from any other form of so called ADR. I’m committed to this self- determination thing from the first moment and even before that. The question of whether you want to participate, I’m not going to even try to sell you on this process. I’m available. I would love to help. I don’t know if it’s going to be what’s best for you. There are a whole lot of processes out there, but I’d love to help and my role will be to support your conversation.

About the mediator

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As a teacher and practitioner of the transformative approach, Dan helps parties have a constructive conversation about their differences. He received his law degree, cum laude, from the University of Minnesota School of Law, his M.A. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Minnesota, and his B.A., with honors, from the University of California at Berkeley. Although he is licensed to practice law in Minnesota, he prefers to practice mediat... View Mediator