People Are Satisfied with Mediation–Even When They Resolve Some but not All Issues!

An important but often overlooked reason to choose mediation is that people who try it are glad they did and give the mediation process a rating in the 80’s and 90’s out of a 100.

Jessica Pearson and Nancy Thoennes found that 93 percent of successful mediation clients “would recommend the process to a friend.”  This is understandable.  What’s remarkable is that 81 percent of unsuccessful mediation clients would also recommend mediation to a friend (1982, cited in Saposnek, 1998).

Apparently, the litigation alternative is such a self-destructive process that even when mediation clients rated their own experience with an average score of 6/10 they still felt that, in general, mediation is a good way to resolve custody disputes with a score of 8/10 (Saposnek et al, 1984).

In another survey, 90 percent of mediation clients, both successful and unsuccessful said that mediation is “a good way to develop a parenting plan” (Depner et al., 1992)

These high scores illustrate the puzzle of divorce.  Conflict is very tempting, but couples that are able to resist its siren song are glad they did.


Depner, C. E., Cannara , K. V., & Simon, M. B. ( 1992). Building a uniform statistical reporting S)’Stem: A snapshot of California Family Court Services.  Family and Conciliation Courts Review, 30, 185-206.

Pearson, J., & Thoennes, N. (1982, June 1 J- 16). Divorce mediation: Strengths and weaknesses over time. Paper presented at the International Society on Family Law Fourth World Conference, Cambridge, MA.

Saposnek, D. T. (1998). Mediating child custody disputes: A strategic approach. Jossey-Bass.

Saposnek, D. T., Hamburg, ]., Delano, C. D., & Michaelsen, H. (1984). How has mandatory mediation fared? Research findings of the first year’s follow-up. Conciliation Courts Review, 22, 7- 19.


The Sane Divorce