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