The Mediation Process

Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process. A neutral third person called a mediator acts to encourage and facilitate the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties. It is informal and non-adversarial.  Mediation is not therapy or counseling, although parents in mediation sometimes decide to seek counseling to support them.  A Mediator’s objective is to help the disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable, voluntary agreement.

In mediation, as compared to arbitration or trial, decision-making authority rests with the parties. Mediation is a less expensive process to settle disputes related to child custody, property division and support so that families can move forward in their lives.

"Empirical evidence consistently points to parental conflict as the factor that most consistently predicts maladjustment among children whose parents have separated or divorced."

Robert E. Emery, Renegotiating Family Relationships: Divorce, Child Custody, and Mediation. New York: The Guilford Press (1994), p. 13.

Mediation Styles

Family Mediation Hawaii employs all three styles of mediation depending on the needs of the participants.  Mediation is a flexible process and can be structured differently to most appropriately meet the needs of each family.


A facilitative mediator structures a process to assist the parties in reaching a mutually agreeable solution.

A facilitative mediator asks questions rather than giving opinions as to the possible outcomes of a case.

In facilitative mediations, the mediator is in charge of the process and the parties are in charge of the outcome.


An evaluative mediator assists the parties in reaching resolutions by pointing out the weaknesses of their cases and suggests what a judge would possibly decide.

They help the parties and attorneys evaluate their legal positions and the cost/benefit analysis of settlement vs. litigation.


A transformative mediator uses the principles of empowerment and recognition to help people in conflict change how they interact with each other. The goal of transformative mediation is to shift both parties toward personal strength, interpersonal responsiveness and constructive interaction.