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Keywords:

  • mediation;
  • divorce;
  • divorce attorneys;
  • divorce mediators;
  • divorce settlements;
  • facilitative practice

Studies have reported that mediation has higher settlement rates than litigation. The quality of these agreements as experienced by the parties as well as the processes that contribute to this subjective experience remains underexamined, however. In a large, representative, and multidisciplinary study of divorcing couples, we studied the relationship between the practices of lawyers and mediators and the quality of agreements experienced by their clients. We used multiple regression analysis to reveal that divorce mediation is significantly more likely than litigation to produce high-quality divorce settlements. Furthermore, we found that high-quality divorce agreements were more likely to occur when mediators and lawyers were perceived to have worked facilitatively. In addition, we found that pre-divorce conflict levels were inversely correlated with the quality of agreements. Which party initiated the divorce, the parties' gender, and the type of legal divorce did not explain variances in the quality of the agreements. In this article, we also discuss the training and practice implications of our findings.