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.
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