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Divorce Mediation and Domestic Violence

NCJ Number
Date Published
234 pages
The Divorce Mediation and Spousal Violence Project used a variety of information collection procedures to examine how divorce mediation programs address the problem of domestic violence in their caseloads.
A mail survey was completed by 136 administrators of public sector, divorce mediation programs in courts to uncover official policies and procedures for identifying and handling domestic violence among the population served. Telephone interviews were also conducted with 30 administrators of court-based divorce mediation programs to obtain additional information on techniques identified in the mail survey. Five divorce mediation programs used by courts in California, Arizona, Illinois, Connecticut, and Maine to screen for domestic violence were studied in detail. Findings revealed that domestic violence is a frequent problem in divorce mediation and that mediator attitudes toward domestic have changed, with 70 percent of national program providers reporting their mediators attend regular professional forums and training sessions on domestic violence and jurisdictions in 33 States mandating the use of mediation in contested custody and visitation disputes. Most mediation programs have revised their procedures to enhance victim safety during and after mediation. Multiple and individualized methods are needed to identify domestic violence, communication between mediation and advocacy communities is vital to divorce mediation program quality and acceptance, and domestic violence victims need a variety of community services and dispute resolution forums. The author concludes that all dispute resolution forums have inherent risks and advantages and that further research should focus on the experiences of domestic violence victims who use mediation and other dispute resolution methods. Appendixes provide additional information on mediation and domestic violence and contain divorce mediation program materials. References, tables, and figures

Date Published: January 1, 1997