Most everyone in Pennsylvania knows that it is virtually impossible for anyone to be completely neutral. Judges and mediators do their best, but each person's bias is always there under the surface. When mediating a divorce settlement, some mediators will attempt to steer the parties toward the outcome they believe would happen if the couple went to court. Other mediators work hard not to think about what would happen if the couple was in court and let the couple direct the process.
Sometimes, a couple wants a mediator to decide issues for them because even though they don't have as much say in the process, it is still less expensive than going to court. This will often happen when couples are not quite amicable enough to sit down and work together. They don't want to have to go into a courtroom and "air their dirty laundry" in public and want to save some money as well.
On the other hand, there are couples who are able to work together more easily and only want a mediator to help them through the process while they make the decisions. There is often a higher degree of satisfaction in these mediations since the couple was more invested in the process. Often in these cases, both mediators and attorneys have to remind themselves that the couple can make any decisions they want so long as it isn't against public policy or illegal.
Regardless of how much decision making the couple wants in mediation, the ultimate goal is to negotiate a divorce settlement without going to court. Both types of mediation, and everything in between, will accomplish that goal. Pennsylvania couples that are looking for a mediator may benefit from taking the time to find a mediator that fits the couple's vision of how they want the process to happen.
Source: Huffington Post, "Is Mediation About Reaching the Same Result in a More Efficient and Economical Manner?" Mark Baer, July 2, 2013