This paper presents the outcomes at a one-year follow-up from a randomized controlled trial involving parents who are resolving separation or divorce-related disputes and who report high levels of intimate partner violence; the authors note study limitations, and describe their research methodology, outcomes, and policy implications.
The authors report one-year follow-up outcomes from a randomized controlled trial involving parents resolving separation or divorce-related disputes and reporting high levels of intimate partner violence (IPV). They compared traditional litigation to two mediation approaches designed to protect parent safety (i.e., shuttle and videoconferencing) at a court-annexed mediation division. The sample was not nationally representative, limiting generalizability. The authors found no significant differences across conditions in parent reports of satisfaction with the process, level of continuing IPV or interparental conflict, parenting quality, parent functioning, or child functioning. Parents in traditional litigation, relative to parents in mediation, reported significantly more social support. Also, parents in videoconferencing, versus those in shuttle, mediation reported more PTSD symptoms from IPV. Based on coding of legal records, no significant condition differences emerged in relitigation rates in the family court case or charges of study case IPV-related incidents. Given few differences across study conditions, including in satisfaction levels, in contrast to the immediate outcomes, the one-year follow-up findings do not clearly favor mediation or litigation. The authors conclude that when both parents in cases with reported high IPV are willing to mediate, mediation designed with safety protocols and carried out in a protected environment by well-trained staff may be an appropriate alternative to traditional litigation. They consider implications of their findings; for example, they discuss implications of the form of videoconferencing mediation examined for conducting online mediation, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. Publisher Abstract Provided
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