BlogFamily Mediation

True or False? “I have been the victim of domestic abuse, so I can’t do family mediation.”

By 18th July 2023 No Comments

As family mediators, this is a statement we hear all too often. But why do prospective clients think this? Is it true?

Lots of clients tell us they have been told by their solicitor, or the domestic abuse forum providing them with support, and some have reached this conclusion on their own. But are they right? No, not always. I’m afraid the answer isn’t as simple as ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but it certainly warrants further explanation. 

Our experience and research on this matter tell us the information given to clients often comes from a lack of understanding about the mediation process and what clients can expect. 

The mediation process always begins with a MIAM – Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. These individual one-to-one meetings between a client and a mediator, allow for the mediator to explain a little more about the mediation process and gain a greater understanding of the client‘s position and the issues they would like to address.

Domestic abuse screening is an essential part of the MIAM and in the event a client discloses abuse, the mediator can then discuss safeguarding options which could be put in place to enable the client to participate, for example:

  • Mediation could take place remotely online.
  • Clients don’t have to be in the same room or on the same screen. This is called shuttle mediation and involves the mediator going back and forth between the parties.
  • Clients could have staggered arrival and leaving times, so they won’t see each other outside of the mediation setting.
  • Clients can bring a domestic abuse support worker with them to the mediation session.

If victims of abuse are denied the opportunity to attend, or even consider, mediation, the alternative is often a court process. Court proceedings involving children can take four to twelve months to reach conclusion and financial proceedings can be in excess of eighteen months. Whereas, the mediation process can be concluded in as little as eight weeks.

Many abusers will use the court process to delay matters and ergo continue to control the victim of their abuse both emotionally and financially. The costs of court proceedings can run into tens of thousands of pounds, whereas mediation is usually concluded for under one thousand pounds or even for free if the client is eligible for legal aid. 

Armed with this basic information, I feel it is incumbent upon all professionals dealing with families in conflict and victims of domestic abuse, to enable these individuals to participate in a process which will allow them to achieve freedom from abuse much quicker.

If you are a professional working with victims of abuse and would like to know more about the family mediation process, please don’t hesitate to contact us or join one of our FREE workshops.