Understanding the three styles of mediation can help you understand the mediation process better.
There are pros and cons to each and many mediators use one or more types during the mediation process.
There is not one form that is better than another.
Most family law attorneys prefer the evaluative style.
Facilitative Mediation: This was the original style of mediation and is still in use today. The goal is to help parties reach an agreement based on information and understanding. Attorneys might participate, but the disputing parties are in control of designing the resolution.
Evaluative Mediation: Mediators point out weaknesses in each case and predict the outcome of litigation. Disputing parties have a bit less control, but this is still an effective way to settle a dispute because it provides a no-nonsense view of the situation.
Transformative Mediation: This is the newest style of mediation and is based on empowering and recognizing each party’s concerns and needs. The benefit of this style is its ability to transform the relationship of the disputing parties. Parties are in control of the outcome, there is no pressure or threat, and when all is said and done, the relationship could continue and flourish.
I tend to use evaluative with a bit of facilitative and transformative thrown in. In family law mediation, I find that emotions run deep and that they must be dealt with before true negotiations can occur. It is not my job to determine who is telling the truth - the judge does that. I only give people options to move forward in the future with less frustration and aggravation. I often say "I don't have a horse in this race" so I'm not truly invested in the final outcome. I like to "reality test" -- if you spend $10,000 on a trial but only get $2,000 back then how is that a good use of your money?
I recently did a mediation between a consumer and the owner of an automotive repair shop. The owner of the shop was livid because after 25 years of being in business with only happy customers he was being sued. Sure it was a business lawsuit but he could not discuss settlement until I listened to his hurt emotions at being sued. His reputation meant everything to him and being sued hurt him deeply. We eventually settled but not until he got all the "stuff" off his chest.