Sunday, September 17, 2006

Mediator conflicts

A reader asks:
Why do you say that mediators have conflicts? Aren't they purely and neutrally motivated for the benefit of the kids?
Maybe if they are working for free. If they are getting paid, then you have to look at how they get paid, and what incentives they have. Mediators can make a lot of money from doing court-mandated work. It is lucrative been there is usually some guaranteed minimum number of sessions and the court will make the clients pay.

The mediators make the most money if they convince the court that they know much more about child-rearing than the parents, and if the court imposes one-sided custody orders. Then the disadvantaged parties have to grovel to the court for an opportunity to convince a mediator that a better deal might be appropriate. The mediator can then collect the big bucks while he lectures the father on domestic violence or bedtime stories or whatever.

The mediators on the PBS show were just reciting arguments that would maximize their income. Self-serving comments aren't necessarily wrong, but they are suspect, and a fair show would point that out. In this PBS show, I think that many of the mediators' comments were wrong, and it is unfortunate that the show did not have some fathers' rights advocate who could explain the errors.

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