This research presents unique insight into the discovery and understanding of the phenomenon of family mediator effectiveness as defined by family mediators who are widely regarded as North America’s foremost authorities and leading practitioners in family mediation. Mediators’ qualifications were reviewed from The Association for Conflict Resolution ACR’s Family Section, but formally screened and selected for participation in this study through Mediate.com. The research findings posit that family mediator effectiveness is a global concept related to mind and behavior, verbal and nonverbal communication, and can be learned and acquired with skill-based training. An interpretive theoretical framework for understanding family mediator effectiveness emerged and adds to the body of theory, research, and practice in the field of mediation.
Family mediation like family law often deals with significant issues captured in the popular mnemonic represented by PEACE: parental plans, equitable distribution, alimony, child support, and everything else (e.g. co-parenting, paternity, time sharing, …etc.). In addition, issues such as drug or alcohol use, parental absenteeism, allocation of responsibilities, and/or estate asset discrepancies have been known to create tensions and disagreements between family members. Given the rapidly increasing incidence of divorce and separation— where often cumulative property division, alimony and matters of custodial custody, child support and visitation, and other highly contested issues must be addressed— parties often need the assistance of not only an ordinary mediator, but a highly effective family mediator.