Mandatory mediation orders in the context of domestic violence have been a point of controversy for nearly three decades. As mandatory mediation has exploded in popularity across family court systems, legislators and courts have struggled to create best practices for mediating domestic violence. To ensure the suitability of mediation and the safety of the mediation participants, courts may use a screening device to detect domestic violence issues. However, due to poor screening devices or subpar legal models, many family court systems still fail to adequately protect victims of domestic violence.
This paper suggests a set of best practices for family court systems to address domestic violence in mandatory mediation. First, this paper argues that states should employ a uniform model of screening in order to detect domestic violence, collect cross-referenceable data, and reduce arbitrary variation between local courts and other states. Second, this paper discusses potential exemption models for courts to use — models tailored to the scope and budget of their mediation programs. Finally, this paper highlights the need for interdisciplinary support to continue to develop mediation best practices regarding domestic violence.