Search Mediators Near You:

Domestic Violence and Child Abuse: Neglect Screening for Domestic Relations Mediation

The full document is available in pdf format.

Model Court Protocol for Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Screening in Matters Referred to Domestic Relations Mediation

I. Purpose & Presumption Against Mediation

This screening protocol is designed to identify parties involved in divorce or child custody actions for whom mediation may be inappropriate because of domestic violence or child abuse, and to maximize safety and fairness in the mediation process. Mediation presumes that participants can maintain a balance of power with the help of a mediator in order to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution of a dispute. The mediation process and resulting agreement can be dangerous and unfair if the imbalance of power is great or if the imbalance is unrecognized.

When domestic violence is present among parties in a dispute, the abuser’s desire to maintain power and control over the victim is inconsistent with the method and objective of mediation. Fear of the abuser may prevent the victim from asserting needs, and the occasion of mediation may give abusers access to victims, which exposes the victim, the children, and the mediator to a risk of violence.

Mediator neutrality may support the abuser’s belief that the abuse is acceptable. The future-orientation of mediation may discourage discussion of past abuse, which in turn invalidates the victim’s concerns and excuses the abuser. This may result in agreements that are inherently unsafe.

Mandatory referral to mediation by the court may communicate to the abuser and the abused that the violence is not serious enough to compromise the parties’ ability to negotiate as relative equals. This message also may invalidate the seriousness of the abuse, dilute abuser accountability, and result in unsafe agreements.

When domestic violence is present, the case should be presumed inappropriate for mediation.

The decision whether to order, initiate or continue mediation should be made on a case-by-case basis.

Parties should be fully and regularly informed that continuation of mediation is a voluntary process and that they may withdraw for any reason.


Managing Editor In business since 1996, is the world’s leading mediation and dispute resolution website with over 7 million annual site visitors. serves as a bridge between professionals offering dispute resolution services and individuals and businesses needing those services. was awarded the 2010 American Bar Association Institutional Problem Solver of… MORE >

Featured Mediators

View all

Read these next


What Times Are These? The Unruly Tyranny Of Mobs

Bertolt Brecht wrote, "what times are these/when a poem about trees is almost a crime/because it contains silence/against so many outrages." The same can be said for a post about...

By Victoria Pynchon

Analysis of The Hewlett Packard Proxy Battle

FACTS On September 4, 2001, history was made when two of the largest computer companies in the world, Compaq and Hewlett Packard, announced that they were seeking to merge to...

By Dana Tait

Not Facing People Makes Them Comfortable?

I went the other day to an espresso bar (yes, I am a full-on coffee/espresso snob now!) and noticed something that I had to blog on. Being the massive observer...

By Jeff Thompson

Find a Mediator