These days, mediation is a rising trend in family law cases. Not only does it give parties more freedom and control over discussions, but it is usually faster and less expensive as well. Unfortunately, these benefits do not outweigh the possible drawbacks for parties from a relationship with a history of domestic violence.
Fear and power imbalance
Mediation is an approach that allows both parties to openly communicate and negotiate the terms of divorce or family law issues. However, communication will likely not be effective if there is fear and an imbalance of power, which usually exist in domestic violence cases.
If the parties were to force mediation, the victim may agree to terms out of fear of further abuse or retaliation from their abuser. Similarly, the abuser may use their power over the abused party to control the agreement terms. Though there is a mediator during the process, they may be unable to identify these signs of abuse, especially if they lack training in spotting them.
Hence, mediation may not be suitable for cases involving domestic violence. Some states, like Pennsylvania, generally do not allow mediation in these cases.
Can this presumption change?
Courts can allow parties to mediate even if there is a history of domestic violence in the dynamic and that is if the abuser tries to change their abusive behavior. This includes taking counseling and intervention programs. If the court sees improvement and the potential success of settlement, then it may allow mediation.
Determining whether mediation is for you
Family law disputes involve making crucial decisions, such as choosing the best method for your situation. The first step would be to review your case’s facts and circumstances. Based on these, you can compare the suitability of the various means of reaching a resolution.
However, you do not have to do this on your own. This is a difficult task, especially if you are unfamiliar with the law and its processes. You can use available resources and work with a knowledgeable legal team to explore your options better.