Testing models of justice and trust: A study of mediation in child dependency disputes

Jose Ashford, Roger L. Faith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


This study randomly assigned 200 parents to mediation (facilitated by master's-level social workers) or to pretrial conferences (guided by judges) to examine the effects of the dispute resolution methods on the attitudes of parents in child dependency disputes. The study also examined theories from the psychology of justice and trust literature for predicting the attitudes of the parents regarding their dissatisfaction with the juvenile court system, the unfairness of the third parties (that is, social work mediators or judges), and the degree of settlement achieved in the cases. Parents assigned to mediation perceived a higher degree of settlement in the case. But no differences in dispute method effects were observed for other dependent measures in either mediation or pretrial conferences. Justice variables were more salient than trust variables in predicting the unfairness of the third parties and the degree of settlement achieved, but not in predicting dissatisfaction with the juvenile court system. Implications of these findings for social work research and policy practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-29
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Work Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004



  • Child dependency
  • Conflict management
  • Mediation
  • Procedural justice
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this