We tend to hear the term “mediation” and think that it encompasses a single technique for dispute resolution. That actually isn’t the case, though. There are several different types of mediation that might work for a particular case.

Picking the right kind, and the right type of mediator, can help you reach a solution that brings self-satisfaction and overall workability. In this post, we describe four differing approaches.

Facilitative mediation

This is the type of mediation most common in family settings, and the one that most people think of when they hear the term. The mediator doesn’t offer recommendations or impose solutions, but instead facilitates dialogue between the parties.

Facilitative mediators may not share their opinions about the matter in the course of the proceedings, but will help disputants stay focused on their respective goals and interests in resolving the dispute. This may include discussion of not only the “how” of reaching a settlement, but also the “why.”

Evaluative mediation

This type of mediation, although the most common, is in some ways, the opposite of facilitative mediation. Evaluative mediators offer suggestions, recommendations and opinions to the parties, particularly when they are at an impasse, in order to keep the proceedings moving forward. These mediators focus primarily upon the legal validity of the parties’ positions and arguments, and make predictions about the result should the matter go to a judge. An evaluative mediator may encourage parties to settle by making them question the strength of their legal case.


As the name suggests, med-arb is a hybrid of mediation and arbitration. The mediator in a med-arb proceeding will first try to facilitate an agreement between the parties (similar to a traditional mediation), but can also make a binding decision should mediation efforts fail.

Transformative mediation

While similar in many respects to facilitative mediation, transformative mediation involves more than just the parties trying to reach an agreement. The mediator in a transformative mediation is there not just to enable dialogue about the issues, but to help the parties really understand the other’s perspectives. It can achieve a true relational transformation between the spouses through resolution of the conflict.

These are just a few of the available types of mediation. Your family law attorney can work with you to determine what type of mediation might be best for your particular dispute, and can help find a mediator who uses that approach.