Date of Conferral







Leslie Barnes-Young


Couples who divorce are likely to experience increased levels of psychological distress, decreased levels of happiness, and increased levels of depression. To reduce these negative effects, litigators use mediation to resolve disagreements including child custody disputes. The purpose of this quantitative study was to compare divorcing parents' depression and satisfaction with the process after the use of mediation or litigation. Wexler's theory of therapeutic jurisprudence provided the theoretical framework. Data was collected from 170 participants who were recruited using convenience sampling through Facebook. Participants voluntarily completed a survey which included a researcher developed questionnaire, the Acrimony Scale, the Nonacceptance of Marital Termination, and the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression. Results from MANOVA and ANOVA analyses showed that participants who used mediation reported significantly higher levels of fairness and control than parents who used litigation. Findings could be used to inform divorcing parents that mediation may provide them with higher levels of fairness and control. Divorcing couples could be offered mediation services that are more effective and will more likely meet their needs. Court systems could offer mediation as a mandatory first step. This may reduce the number of cases that litigate. Since mediation is generally free, parents would not be forced to pay money for the services and they may end feeling that they had more control within their dispute. If more families experience more fairness and control within their dispute, their overall psychological wellbeing may be improved, thereby positively impacting social change.