What If There Has Been Domestic Violence?

If there has been domestic abuse or violence between you and

the other party, you should understand how it can affect the

safety and fairness of the mediation process. Talk to your

lawyer, a domestic violence counselor, womens’ advocate, or other

professional who works with victims of domestic abuse before

making the decision to mediate.

All family mediators should be knowledgeable and skilled in

the screening and referral of cases involving abusive

relationships. They should be able to explain the potential risks

and benefits of mediation when control, abuse, and violence

issues exist. Any mediator who handles such cases should have

special training in domestic violence issues and should offer

special techniques and procedures to minimize risk and maximize

safety of all participants.

If you decide to try mediation, it is important to let the

mediator know about the abuse or violence. Some ways you can tell

the mediator include asking your lawyer to tell the mediator, or

telling the mediator yourself. You can tell the mediator yourself

in the initial telephone call, or when filling out any written

questionnaires. If there is an active restraining order, make

sure the mediator knows about it before the first session.

Ask what domestic violence training the mediator has had and

if the mediator has worked with similar cases. Ask whether or not

the mediator believes your case is suitable for mediation and

why. Ask how the mediation process can be modified to make it

safer and more fair. Can the mediation be done by telephone or in

separate sessions (“shuttle mediation”)? Can a support

person (domestic violence advocate or your attorney) be present

during the mediation? If your case is not suitable for mediation,

what are your alternatives? Ask for referrals to other resources,

such as a local domestic violence counselor.



The information on this page has been excerpted from the
Consumer’s Guide to Mediation
published by the Alaska Judicial Council,
with funding from the State Justice Institute.


                        author

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