Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Luke Fusco

Advisor Role

Thesis Co-Supervisor

Second Advisor

Eli Teram

Advisor Role

Thesis Co-Supervisor


How problematic is power imbalance in divorce mediation? Research in the last fifteen years has drawn attention to this issue, resulting in criticisms levelled at mediation from women’s groups, lawyers and others. Using six in-depth interviews with Ontario divorce mediators, this study examined power imbalance and its management. Three main themes emerged from the findings related to power: (1) the ‘emotional readiness’ of the couple, (2) the effects of the legal system, in particular, the relationships with lawyers, and, (3) physical intimidation and financial intimidation. Techniques employed by the mediators were similar across the interviews. These findings led to a redefinition of the problem of power in divorce mediation. Specifically, this perspective suggests that the problem with power in mediation may lie in its management by mediators, legal professionals, and government. Implications for practitioners, mediation organizations, and public policy are discussed in light of professional responsibility in divorce mediation.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season