Courts thread with caution in divorce cases where domestic violence has been established. Is mediation appropriate as an alternative to litigation if one spouse is victim of domestic abuse?
Knowing that domestic violence is a reality in about half of heterosexual couples in America, the odds of a mediator encountering a case of domestic abuse are that much higher. In many cases, evidence of domestic violence might be unknown when the mediation process begins, due to the silence the parties keep about it.
If the evidence of domestic violence has been brought to the attention of the mediator, he or she will follow a screening protocol to assess if the couple is a good candidate for mediation. In essence, this process will evaluate the balance of power between the spouses, assess the degree of control of the abuser and determine if there is any threat of physical danger to the parties involved. At all times, the mediator’s main concern is the safety of his clients.
Should the couple proceed with the negotiations with the help of a mediator, policies are set to avoid any risk: separate meetings, exclusive communication, presence of a peace officer for escort if the abused spouse is under considerable fear.
Ground rules can be agreed to, such as precluding topics from the discussions or preventing the parties to communicate so the outcome of mediation is not jeopardized.
For divorce mediation to have a place in a case of domestic violence, the mediators have to be skilled and able to recognize the signs of abuse- when it has not been disclosed- and able to provide a safe environment to their clients. Mediation is collaboration between the parties so the dissolution of marriage is fair to both. However, safety should never be compromised in the process.
Triad Divorce Mediation is a team of highly skilled professionals who provide legal, financial and personal advice to divorcing couples. They work towards a solid agreement for both parties even in high conflict disputes.