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20 Pages

THE DECISION TO MEDIATE: PROFILES OF INDIVIDUALS WHO ACCEPT AND REJECT THE OPPORTUNITY TO MEDIATE CONTESTED CHILD CUSTODY AND VISITATION ISSUES

WithJessica Pearson, Nancy Thoennes, Lois Vanderkooi

ABSTRACT. As part of the Denver Custody Mediation Project, we contrast individuals willing to' mediate and adjudicate custody and visitation disputes. Interviews with 279 mediation-minded individuals and III who reject the mediation offer reveal that mediation is more attractive to individuals who score high on traditional socioeconomic indicators. The mediation decision also tracks somewhat with couple communication patterns and the decision to divorce. For both men and women, a key factor is the encouragement offered by private attorneys with mediating men and women far more likely to have attorneys'who urge them to try. Finally, women choose to mediate because mediation promises to be less impersonal than the court system and more like their satisfying counseling exper.iences. For men, the decision to mediate is a function of their perceived chances of winning in the adversarial process.