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Can mediation work if there is domestic violence history?

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2023 | Divorce, Family Law

Mediation’s popularity among divorce parties has grown over the past few years. With its convenience and cost-effectiveness, it is unsurprising that spouses settle divorce terms this way instead of going to court. However, this process may not work for everyone. Some circumstances surrounding the marriage may render mediation ineffective, such as domestic violence history.

Possible issues

While it might not always be the case, the likelihood of the violence affecting the efficacy and results of the mediation is high. Some of the issues that parties may face during mediation are:

  • Fear and intimidation: Battered spouses may not be able to freely express themselves during mediation because of fear of retaliation or any adverse response from their abusive partners. If these emotions exist in the family dynamic, the mediation may result in an involuntary agreement.
  • Domination and control: In connection to the first concern, abusive spouses can use their power to control their spouses into agreeing to terms they might not even know will be unfair to them.
  • Ineffective communication: For mediation to be effective, both parties must be open to hearing each other’s terms and requests. Otherwise, the discussion may just be full of interruptions, faultfinding and threats.

Sometimes, mediators do not immediately recognize signs of power imbalance. Failure to notice signs can cause an unsuccessful mediation.

Importance of the screening process

Each case is different. It is possible for mediation to work in some cases, even with domestic violence history. Since many factors come into play, it is crucial to conduct proper screening to determine which divorce cases are appropriate for mediation. Not only does the screening help with the efficacy of the mediation, but also the safety of the victims. Having an experienced meditator can help achieve these goals.