• mediation;
  • custody;
  • visitation;
  • orientation;
  • evaluation

Mediation orientation programs are an increasingly common resource for parents preparing to mediate custody and visitation disputes. In this paper, we review empirical studies on program effectiveness and describe a range of programs in the U.S. Most are brief and psychoeducational in nature, focusing on the mediation process and the effects of conflict on children. Programs typically provide information through reading materials, slides, and videos, either in a group setting or online. Few evaluate program effectiveness. We offer suggestions for program evaluation and introduce an assessment-based framework for providing individualized services for parents.

Key Points for the Family Court Community

  • Few Mediation Orientation programs have been empirically evaluated.
  • Useful research designs would include (1) assessing participants both before and after the program and (2) comparing program participants to non-participants.
  • The psychoeducational components of Mediation Orientation programs may need to be tailored for low- and high-conflict couples.