There are many paths to mediation. Mediation can be sought by disputants, recom mended by a friend or coworker, or mandated by a third party such as the courts or a work supervisor. Counselors, agency workers, and concerned friends may suggest mediation to help solve problems. Mediation occurs throughout society in many contexts. Families, communities, organizations, courts, and schools are common contexts for mediation.
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Family mediation takes on many forms and can be referred by a variety of sources. For example, a family was having difficulty re-integrating their son who had run away back ~nto the family home. A social worker recommended a mediator to help the family negotiate rules and expectations. In another example, an advocacy agency specializing in resources for the aging regularly refers families to mediation when negotiating elder care issues. A minister recommended mediation to members of her congregation who could not amicably work out the details on an estate settlement after the death of their parent. Divorcing parents in many states are required to mediate parenting plans for their children prior to bringing their case to a judge. Research indicates the disputants in divorce cases see the mediator’s ability to provide guidance, empathize, foster a civil conversation, and focus on the facts as critical to success.