This study measured intimate partner abuse (IPA) in order to categorize behaviors associated with IPA and whether these behaviors played a role in mediation agreements of families that reported specific types of IPA.
This study on the types of behaviors associated with intimate partner abuse (IPA) that were reported by couples attending mandatory divorce mediation found that the most frequently reported IPA behaviors were psychological abuse, physical abuse, escalated physical abuse, and sexual intimidation, coercion, and rape. The study also examined the degree to which couples who reported IPA were screened out of mediation, whether the overall levels of reported IPA had any relation to the specific terms of the mediated divorce agreements, and whether any restrictions on parenting time or parental contact with children were included in the mediated divorce agreement. The study found that only 5 percent of couples who reported IPA were screened out of mediation, that parental restrictions were included in mediated agreements only 6.5 percent of the time, and that the overall reported level of IPA had no bearing on the specific terms of the mediated agreement. Data for the study were obtained from sample (n=864) of pairs of husband and wives who were disputing custody or parenting time (or both) and who were mandated to attend divorce mediation before their case could go to court. The data was analyzed to determine whether mediated divorce agreements are adequate in providing protections for children and safety restrictions for adult victims in cases where IPA has been reported. The findings show that while full or partial agreements were reached in a majority of the cases, 582 out of 864, provisions for supervised parenting time and restrictions on contact between parents were virtually absent from all cases in the sample. This finding suggests that parents in relationships with increased levels of IPA may be opting out of the mediation process due to a lack of adequate protections in the proposed agreements. Study limitations and policy issues are discussed. Tables and references