Divorce and Family Mediation Models, Techniques, and Applications

Article excerpt

JAY FOLBERG, ANN L. MILNE, AND PETER SALEM (Eos.): Divorce and Family Mediation Models, Techniques, and Applications. New York: Guilford Press, 2004, 588 pp., $65.00, ISBN 1-59385-002-6

Editors Folberg, Milne, and Salem have assembled a noteworthy group of researchers, trainers, and practitioners of divorce and family mediation to provide provocative discussions on essential topics in the field. They not only have contributed a strong editorial hand but have written chapters as well. Jay Folberg, whose name should be recognized by all who have followed the Alternative Dispute Resolution movement, has been an active mediator since 1974 and in 1998 he was appointed to chair a task force on ADR by the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. Ann Milne was the Executive Director of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) for over 13 years and is a trainer and oft-sought guest lecturer. Peter Salem is the current Executive Director of AFCC and teaches mediation at Marquette University Law School.

Part I is an introductory chapter on the evolution of divorce and family mediation. Part II provides an overview of different mediation models and approaches to mediation practice. Part III encompasses mediation techniques and interventions and contains chapters on mediating financial issues, on working with children in mediation, on parenting children separately after divorce, on responding to power issues, on managing the communication process and on managing impasses in the mediation process.

Part IV is perhaps the most controversial part of the book. It considers applications of the mediation process with populations whose special problems might lead one to an a priori conclusion that mediation cannot be effective. There are chapters on mediation with never-married parents, with spouse abusers and victims, with same-sex couples, with blended families, and finally a chapter on "mediating in the shadow of an affair." The chapter on mediation with blended families suggests that the process, or aspects of the process, might contain promise of therapeutic change as well. Indeed, if there is one criticism of the book, it is that it shortchanges the discussion of mediation in intact (as opposed to dissolving) family structures, as between parent and teenager.

Section V contains two chapters on mediation in the context of the legal process, one on court-based mandatory mediation and the other on the threats to self-determination in court-connected mediation. The last section of the book, which deals with mediation as a developing profession and career path, includes tracts on current research, on the certification of mediators, on standards of practice, on the development of a mediation practice, and finally, another sign that the apocalypse is upon us, on the use of the Internet to facilitate communication when divorcing parties cannot meet face-to-face.

Mediation became popular as a means of resolving divorce issues almost forty years ago. The original mediation movement was guided by a vision of selfdetermination for disputing parties who were usually divorce litigants, but sometimes came from intact families in distress. …