Can Divorce Mediators Handle Cases of Domestic Violence?

By Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County domestic violence attorneys; California Divorce MediatorsDid you know that according to a study, nearly half of couples that live in America have encountered some form of domestic abuse? This means that there is a chance that any marriage that goes towards a divorce will have traces of domestic violence in it.

Typically, cases of out and out domestic abuse are brought before the law, with the courts treading with caution in their dealing of the case. However, with more and more people opting for divorce mediation instead of litigation, the question is whether mediation can handle cases of domestic violence? Especially, because in most cases, the evidence comes to light only once the process has begun.

What Should They Do?

A domestic violence abuse is a serious offence. The issue needs to be handled with care. If such an accusation comes to light in front of a divorce mediator, they will have to follow the standard protocol of couple screening to judge whether they are capable of mediation. The aim of the procedure is to take a look at the balance of power that exists between the two spouses. Which spouse dominates the other and if there is any such threat of the physical or emotional abuse happening again.

The most important thing to realize about mediation is that one of the foremost priorities of a divorce mediator is to ensure the safety of the parties involved in the proceedings.

Can Domestic Violence work as the basis of a Divorce Case?

There is no right answer to this question and the answer will largely depend on the extent of the abuse, the nature of the abuse and the continuity of the abuse. One of the reasons why a spouse decides to end their relation has got to do with them not feeling happy in their marriage. Sometimes, this may be because of physical abuse, other times, it might be due to emotional abuse.

The mere presence of domestic violence in a divorce case though, doesn’t make it impossible to mediate. If, for example, the domestic violence took place a long time ago, or if it took place in a one-time instance, it might not have the same effect as a recurring one would perhaps have.

Steps Taken in Such Cases

If the couple does decide to go ahead with divorce mediation, there are a number of steps that the mediator might take to ensure a safe and smooth process. Here is a low down on some of the steps that might be taken:

  • Arrange for exclusive communications
  • Have separate mediation sessions

Whether it is litigation or mediation, no method condones domestic violence. Unlike the court’s iron stamp, mediation is more cooperative in nature. Yet, to deal with cases of domestic violence, the approach and tactics are typically changed.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation.