Jessica Pearson, Ph.D. Center for Policy Research
1720 Emerson Street Denver Colorado 80218 303 / 837-1555
Chapter 1: Divorce Mediation and Domestic
This report describes how divorce mediation programs in the U.S.courts handle the problem of domestic violence in their caseloads. It is based on the reports of administrators of court-based divorce mediation programs and in-depth study of procedures in flve settings using qualitative interview and observation techniques. As mediation becomes more common in the court system, and as the widespread nature of domestic violence becomes more apparent, the appropriateness of mediation in domestic abuse caseshasbecome an issue of increasing national importance. Thisreport provides a preliminary look at how mediators and court administrators say they are handling the problem. We focus on whether and how mediators and court staff attempt to gauge the level of domestic abuse and the capacity of the parties to mediate. We describe the common adjustments to the mediation process they make in order to enhance safety in cases with domestic abuse. Since we did not survey mediation participants with and without a domestic abuse history to gauge their reactions to these procedures and the impact, if any, of their mediation experiences on the level of domestic abuse they experience this study must be regarded as preliminary rather than conclusive.