A critical reappraisal of divorce mediation research and policy

Connie J.A. Beck, Bruce D. Sales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Because of the many problems associated with litigating divorce disputes, mediation has been proposed as an alternative. Its proponents, claiming wide-ranging benefits for both the litigants and the legal system, have had tremendous success in advancing mediation in social policy. This article critically assesses the validity of these claimed benefits. The article first considers the role of pro se representation and its potential consequences for evaluating divorce mediation because of the increased use of pro se representation in these cases. The article then articulates the goals attributed to the mediation procedure and its clients, identifies the behavioral assumptions underlying those goals, and critically reviews the social science research and theory that have directly tested the validity of the goals and assumptions or are indirectly relevant to the analysis (B. D. Sales, 1983). It is concluded that the goals of divorce mediation may have been and may be overly optimistic. The implications of these findings for mediation practice and policy are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)989-1056
Number of pages68
JournalPsychology, Public Policy, and Law
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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