WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Important: Even if courts are closed, you can still file for a protection order and other emergency relief. See our FAQ on Courts and COVID-19.

Legal Information: District of Columbia


October 29, 2020

What is mediation?

Mediation is when a third party, called a mediator, tries to help the parents agree on a custody arrangement and visitation schedule instead of having the judge make the decision at trial.

Mediation may be used at the beginning stages of a custody case and/or it may be included in the parenting plan as a way to resolve disagreements between the parents once the custody case is over.1

If you are a survivor of domestic violence, mediation may not be appropriate.  The abuser may use mediation as an opportunity for further control and abuse, and s/he may intimidate you into agreeing to something that you do not want.  You may want to let the judge know that you are a victim of domestic violence and that you do not want to go through mediation.  You will also have a chance to let the mediator know about any domestic violence if your case is assigned to mediation.2 

If you do end up having to go to mediation, a lawyer or domestic violence advocate may be able to help you prepare for mediation.  To find a lawyer or advocate in your area please visit our DC Places that Help page.

1 D.C. Code § 16-914(c)(11)
2D.C. Superior Court website