Can you mediate if there has been domestic violence?
If there has been violence in your relationship mediation can still take place as long as those involved feel safe and heard in a calm atmosphere.
Sometimes you may be concerned that you might see your ex-partner on your way to or from the mediation session. In these circumstances the mediator can arrange for people to arrive separately and leave at separate times and have separate waiting areas. This is the sort of thing that can usefully be discussed at the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting.
Being in the same room as your ex-partner where there has been violence can be very stressful. If you feel this will prevent you concentrating on the session or speaking out as honestly as you would like you could always ask for a break. It is sometimes possible to have what is called shuttle mediation when you are both in separate rooms and the mediator will see each of you individually.
Hopefully in mediation the mediator can help you find a way of communicating that is very different from the way you communicated during your relationship. When you have children this is particularly important as you will both be parents of your children for ever, despite any problems that were in your relationship.
The mediator will establish ground rules, such as speaking in turn and listening to each other with respect. The mediator will try and help keep the discussions on areas that will help you solve your problems and move forward rather than going over old arguments. If the levels of conflict become too high the mediator can intervene and if necessary stop the session. Often mediation can be very empowering to people who have experienced domestic violence as they can feel that their views are being given the space they deserve in mediation and that they are taken into account in any future arrangements.
Family mediation is a voluntary process and if it does not work for you, you can consider other options, such as making an application to the court.
You will find more information about preparing for mediation in our article in the news section ‘ How to get the most out of your mediation sessions’