Divorce Mediation and Domestic Violence in the United States, 1993 (ICPSR 2561)
Principal Investigator(s): Pearson, Jessica, Center for Policy Research
This study gathered data on policies and procedures for identifying domestic violence issues among divorcing couples and examined divorce mediation practices and policies in cases with allegations of spousal violence. Mediators and court administrators provided information on: (1) whether and how they attempted to gauge the level of domestic abuse and the capacity of divorcing parties to mediate, and (2) common adjustments to the mediation process made to enhance safety in divorce cases where domestic abuse is present. Data collection involved a collaboration with the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) in the administration and analysis of this survey. Court programs providing divorce mediation and/or custody evaluations in 1993 were targeted. The questionnaire was mailed in late 1993 to 200 institutional members of the AFCC and active providers of family and divorce services in the National Center for State Courts database. A total of 149 public-sector divorce mediation and custody/visitation counseling providers responded. Variables include information on the rules, statutes, or guidelines under which the program operates, case handling procedures prior to mediation or custody/visitation evaluations, and procedures used when clients come to mediation. Information is also provided on the number of paid professional staff, number of custody/visitation mediations and evaluations completed, population of the jurisdiction, the program's relationship to the court, types of orientation programs for parents provided by the court, if the community had any supervised visitation services, and the city and state in which the program is located.
These data are freely available.
Pearson, Jessica. DIVORCE MEDIATION AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN THE UNITED STATES, 1993. ICPSR version. Denver, CO: Center for Policy Research [producer], 1994. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1999. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02561.v1
Persistent URL: http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02561.v1
This study was funded by:
- United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (93-IJ-CX-0036)
Scope of Study
Geographic Coverage: United States
Date of Collection:
Unit of Observation: Individual court program.
Universe: All public-sector divorce mediation providers in the United States.
Data Types: survey data
Data Collection Notes:
(1) Consistency adjustments were not made by ICPSR. (2) The user guide, codebook, and data collection instrument are provided as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided through the ICPSR Website on the Internet.
Study Purpose: As mediation becomes more common in the court system, and as the widespread nature of domestic violence becomes more apparent, the appropriateness of divorce mediation in domestic abuse cases has become an issue of increasing national importance. While the strongest criticisms have been directed toward the practice of mandating abused women to participate in divorce mediation, some battered women's advocates object to the use of divorce mediation when there has been any domestic assault. Concerns about divorce mediation in cases where there has been domestic abuse include the following: (1) Mediation decriminalizes domestic abuse and encourages a conciliatory approach that does not hold the abuser accountable for his behavior, and the abuser may learn there are no adverse consequences to violence. (2) Victims might be made to feel partially to blame for the abuse. (3) Ensuring the safety of the victim during a process that allows the abuser to know the time and place his or her partner will be present for mediation becomes an important issue. (4) Power imbalances introduced by domestic violence may render mediation inherently unfair. (5) The conjoint and compromising nature of mediation may discourage abused victims from expressing their anger and deny them the benefits that expressed anger can bring. (6) Joint custody arrangements favored by mediators may run counter to what is best for the victim and their children. (7) Mediation may erode the victim's financial status and deprive him or her of the economic advantages they may have won through divorce litigation. (8) Questions arise regarding the caliber of court-based and community-based divorce mediation programs and the ability of staff to properly screen and handle cases with domestic abuse. However, most mediators and their supporters believe that mechanisms such as screening, individual caucusing, and the use of advocates in mediation sessions can help mitigate safety and fairness concerns in domestic violence cases. This study provides information on mediators' and court administrators' handling of these situations by focusing on: (1) whether and how mediators and court staff attempt to gauge the level of domestic abuse and the capacity of divorcing parties to mediate, and (2) common adjustments to the divorce mediation process made to enhance safety in cases with domestic abuse.
Study Design: Data collection involved a collaboration with the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) in the administration and analysis of this survey. Court programs providing divorce mediation and/or custody evaluations in 1993 were targeted. The questionnaire was mailed in late 1993 to 200 institutional members of the AFCC and active providers of family and divorce services in the National Center for State Courts database. A total of 149 public-sector divorce mediation and custody/visitation counseling providers responded with information on their official policies and procedures for identifying domestic violence among the population served, and divorce mediation practices and policies in cases with allegations of spousal violence.
Sample: Institutional members of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) and active family and divorce service providers from the National Center for State Courts database.
self-enumerated mailed questionnaires
Description of Variables: Variables examining mediation include whether participation in divorce mediation is at the request of one or both parties, recommended by some or all judges, or mandated by court rule, practice, or state statute, how decisions are made to exclude cases from divorce mediation due to domestic violence, how decisions are made about special approaches to use in cases of domestic violence, the percentage of cases eliminated from divorce mediation due to concerns of domestic violence, procedures the program uses to determine if a referral is appropriate for divorce mediation, the number and type of questions asked of clients to screen for domestic abuse, who reviews the screening questionnaire and conducts the screening interview, opportunities either party had to obtain information or approach program staff about concerns regarding the appropriateness of divorce mediation, steps taken when the program determines that domestic violence has occurred, who has the authority to decide if divorce mediation will take place, types of follow-up questions asked of the victim and the abuser when domestic abuse is reported, issues not negotiable in divorce mediation when domestic abuse has been identified, and the type and number of hours of domestic abuse training received by the program's mediators. Custody/visitation evaluation variables include how custody/visitation evaluations are initiated, if and how the statute or local court rule makes special provisions for custody evaluation in cases involving domestic abuse, procedures the program uses to gather information about parents in custody/visitation evaluations, number and type of questions asked of clients to screen for domestic abuse, who reviews the screening questionnaire and conducts the screening interview, how often various techniques in conducting sessions are used by counselors when domestic abuse is reported, percentage of custody/visitation evaluations conducted as separate, individual sessions only, a mix of joint and separate sessions, or joint sessions only, and the type and number of hours of domestic abuse training received by the program's counselors. Variables providing general information include number of paid professional staff, number of custody/visitation mediations and custody/visitation evaluations completed in the previous year, population of the jurisdiction, the program's relationship to the court, types of orientation programs for parents provided by the court, if the community has any supervised visitation services, and the city and state in which the program is located.
Response Rates: A total of 149 questionnaires were returned, which comprised a response rate of 75 percent.
Presence of Common Scales: None.
Extent of Processing: ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:
- Created online analysis version with question text.
- Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.
Original ICPSR Release: 1999-07-01
- 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.
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