BlogFamily Mediation

Mediation and Domestic Abuse

By 28th February 2024 No Comments

Nicola Crowther of Crowther Mediation discusses safeguarding measures that are put in place during Mediation for Domestic Abuse victims to ensure participants feel safe throughout. 

Is Family Mediation safe?

Family Mediation provides a safe, professional environment for participants to discuss the issues they would like to resolve.  Safeguarding is paramount in the mediation process.

During the initial Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM), the mediator must determine whether or not a case is suitable for mediation and whether it is necessary, or possible, to put safety measures in place in ensure participants feel safe enough to engage in the mediation process.

Mediation and Domestic Abuse Process

Domestic abuse is not an automatic bar to mediation.  Victims of abuse should be afforded the same opportunity to resolve their disputes as quickly as possible with minimum costs. It would not seem right or just to insist those victim of abuse should have no alternative but to enter into a long, drawn out court process with their abuser, costing significantly more than mediation.  Equally, it would not be right to expect victims of abuse to come face to face with their abuser in the mediation process, without any support.

A skilled mediator will use the MIAM to ascertain whether or not there are any issues which would warrant putting safeguarding measures in place. This domestic abuse screening process should be carried out during EVERY MIAM regardless of the gender, age, nationality etc of the client. Where there is a disclosure of abuse, the mediator should then go on to discuss the ways in which the mediation process could be adapted to ensure the safety of the participants.

How Crowther Mediation can adapt our Mediation process:

REMOTE Mediation

This could be done online, via video conferencing such as Zoom or Teams etc. Mediating in this way eliminates the risk of participants seeing each other outside of the mediation process e.g. in the waiting area or car park.  Participants are likely to feel less anxious about the mediation process when they are mediating form the comfort of their own home.

STAGGERED ARRIVAL/LEAVING

Participants in face to face mediation are asked to arrive at separate times and leave at separate times to minimise the risk of seeing each other in the waiting area, car park, etc. The victim of the abuse will be given the opportunity to leave the session earlier, to allow sufficient time to get away from the building.

SHUTTLE Mediation

Involves the participants being in separate rooms/screens and the mediator ‘shuttling’ back and forth between them. Mediating in this way means the participants will not see or hear each other during the process. They can have a support worker, family member or solicitor with them for support and advice.  Those participants involved in shuttle mediation have the benefit of being able to take the time and space required to fully consider the options and proposals for settlement.

SUPPORTED Mediation

Involves the participants having a source of support with them during the process e.g. a domestic abuse support worker, a family member or a solicitor.  This source of support may help the participants in mediation feel less anxious and enable them to focus on the issues being discussed and the options available.

Other safeguarding measures in Family Mediation

We should be reminded, Mediation is a confidential process, however there are exemptions to confidentiality, in particular where a person discloses a risk of harm to themselves or others. In these situations the mediator will need to report the abuse to the relevant authorities, to ensure safeguarding measures and appropriate protection of individuals can be put in place.

Finally, mediation is a voluntary process. Regardless of the safety measures available, we should remember that participants can choose not to mediate (as can the mediator).

A Final Word

Safeguarding and identifying abuse are taken very seriously in family mediation. At Crowther Mediation we want to archive the best possible outcomes for our clients. We believe every dispute is unique and the mediation process should be adapted to reflect this.

Get in touch

If you would like to arrange a MIAM or talk to one of our team about the safeguarding measures available, please contact us on our website or give us a call on 0330 390 3398.