As divorce rates rise, family mediation represents an alternative way of making settlements without involving an already overburdened judicial system. This book presents a discussion of the current North American trends in the burgeoning field of family mediation by featuring both a review of the literature and a model for family mediation practice. The practice model presented here, Therapeutic Family Mediation, stresses an ecological perspective, and considers the feminist critique of the mediation process. The authors also address mediation's role in the important issues of joint custody, ethnicity, and child protection. Future directions in family mediation are examined in the final part.

General Introduction

General introduction

Although mediation per se has a long history worldwide, the prominence of family mediation in North America is relatively recent, dating from the mid-1970s (Brown, 1982; Irving & Benjamin, 1987).1 In the early 1980s, the texts (e.g., Folberg & Taylor, 1984; Saposnek, 1983) are simultaneously tentative and confident: They are tentative in the sense that family mediation was a fledgling technology whose survival was not assured. Legislators and jurists remained justifiably skeptical and perhaps somewhat threatened, whereas the general public was largely uninformed. They are confident because in advocating for the legitimacy of mediation, proponents often made exaggerated claims about its efficacy and application while distorting the role and effects of the adversarial system.

By the 1990s, the legal landscape had changed (Cox, ...

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