Child Custody Mediation and Litigation: Parents' Satisfaction and Functioning One Year After Settlement

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Abstract

A 1-year follow-up study was conducted on families randomly assigned to settle custody disputes either in mediation or through adversary procedures. Consistent with Time 1 reports, at Time 2 fathers who mediated were substantially more satisfied than were fathers who litigated. Fathers who mediated also complied more with child support orders. Contrary to prediction, the greater satisfaction and compliance of fathers did not lead to increased satisfaction among mothers who mediated. In contrast to Time 1, at follow-up mothers who mediated were significantly less satisfied than were mothers who litigated, but selective attrition may account for these differences. The psychological adjustment of mothers and fathers was not significantly different between settlement groups at Time 2, but mothers in both groups reported less satisfaction with dispute settlement and less dysphoria at Time 2 than they had reported at Time 1.

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