Legal Information: District of Columbia

Custody

Updated: 
July 13, 2021

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 can also let the mediator know about any domestic violence if your case is assigned to mediation.

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)

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