Virginia's Judicial System

Parenting Issues Resolved

The Hamilton County Domestic Relations Court in Cincinnati, Ohio, published the results of a fifteen-month mediation research project entitled, "Early Intervention Mediation: The Use of Court-Ordered Mediation in the Early Stages of Divorce Litigation to Resolve Parenting Issues."

The project's goal was to test the efficacy of the early introduction of mediation to resolve parenting disputes. Half of the court's divorcing parents, who were unable to agree upon custody arrangements, attended mediation within six weeks after the filing of their divorce, while the other half of divorcing parents were the control group who followed existing court procedures. Parenting issues were fully resolved in 61% of the cases ordered into mediation, sparing these families damaging, time-consuming and costly litigation.

Those involved in the project, including court personnel, attorneys and the parents, agreed about the benefits of mediation as an alternative to litigation. Administrative Judge, Ronald A. Panoto, said, "The Court has, in effect, transferred the settlement of a majority of parenting issues from the adversarial process of litigation to the more child-focused process of mediation." Due to the nature of the project, current court personnel were trained as mediators so the Court can permanently adopt the mediation program without additional costs.

The project was conducted under a grant from the State Justice Institute (SJI) of Alexandria, Virginia. SJI is a non-profit organization established by Federal law to award grants to improve the quality of justice in State courts nationwide, facilitate better coordination between State and Federal courts, and foster innovative, efficient solutions to common problems faced by all courts.

A copy of the project's final report is available by contacting Jayne Zuberbuhler, Program Director. Telephone 513-852-8079; E-mail; Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations, 800 Broadway, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

Mediation Grant Received

For the third year, the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) has been awarded grant monies from the Virginia Department of Social Services to fund custody and visitation mediation.

An award of $51,872 allowed OES to award mediation contracts to twenty-six community mediation centers and private mediators who responded to its Request for Proposals. These subcontractors will provide custody and visitation mediation free of cost to citizens who are referred to mediation by courts throughout Virginia.

Resource Corner

NITA Publishes
The Mediator's Handbook

On February 1, 2000, the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) released John W. Cooley's new book, The Mediator's Handbook.

Because of mediation's wide-spread use, mediator skills have been elevated to the group of core skills needed by all law professionals. Cooley presents here an invaluable handbook that encompasses a broad range of practical and theoretical issues that covers all stages of mediation from mediation preliminaries, to the mediation session or conference, to post-conference duties.

Although written for experienced mediators of litigated disputes, this book should also be of interest to the novice mediator who has conducted a few supervised mediations and now wants to serve in a more complex dispute setting.

The Mediator's Handbook also contains valuable information for non-lawyer mediators such as financial and estate planners, insurance professionals, and accountants who are commonly involved in commercial disputes.

For more information, contact:
Kathy Pitts, NITA Product Manager
(800) 225-6482

This page last modified: March 23, 2000