I’m Afraid or Worried

Mediation isn’t appropriate for everyone… even if it’s court ordered.

Have you ever been afraid of your partner/your ex-partner?
Do you think it might be hard to stand up to him/her or say what you really want or think?
Are you worried s/he might get back at you for something you say or do in mediation?
If there is a history of hurtful behavior, manipulation, domination, threats or actual violence – mediation may not be appropriate. Tell your attorney, if you have one, and tell the mediator.
You can ask the court for an excuse or waiver if you feel intimidated or fear for your safety.
Or, if you are afraid or concerned about manipulation, etc., but you want to mediate, talk with your mediator about altering the mediation process. 1) You can bring your attorney or a support person, 2) You and the other person can be in separate rooms and the mediator will go back and forth, or 3) You can mediate by conference call or Skype. You have options. See below for others.

RISK OF HARM IS GREATEST AT THE TIME OF SEPARATION.

What Are My Options?

If the court orders you to mediation:

  • You can ask the court for an excuse or waiver if you feel afraid or can’t speak up
  • If you go to mediation,
    • You can end mediation at any time
    • You can leave at any time
    • You don’t have to reach any agreement
    • You don’t have to talk about anything you don’t want to talk about
    • You don’t sign/finalize decisions in mediation
    • In mediation, you can’t talk about whether abuse did or didn’t occur

What If I Decide I Want to Try Mediation Anyway?

Here are some things that might make mediation better for you:

  • Be honest with the mediator (and your attorney, if you have one) about your concerns. S/he can’t help you if s/he doesn’t know what’s going on.
  • Bring your attorney to the mediation. Talk with the mediator about this first. Or ask the mediator if you can bring a support person.
  • Plan with the mediator to arrive last and leave first.
  • Try ‘shuttle mediation’ where you are not in the same room as your partner. The mediator goes back and forth between you.
  • You can have phone mediation, so you don’t see each other.
  • You can visit the office before the mediation. Figure out where you want to sit, where the exits are, or anything else to make you feel comfortable.
  • Work out a secret signal between you and the mediator that means, “Stop! I need a break!” The mediator can call for a break, so you don’t have to. Or, you can ask for a break whenever you need one.

What if…

We Try It And It Doesn’t Work?

That’s okay. Either you or your partner can choose to stop the mediation if you think it isn’t working. Your case can then be either negotiated by your attorneys, if you have them, or it will go back to a judge.

I Don’t Feel Safe and I Want to Mediate?

Let the mediator know your concerns about safety or not being able to speak up. You can apply for a waiver or the mediator can tell the court your case isn’t appropriate for mediation. The mediator will not tell your partner why the two of you aren’t going to meet.

There is a No Contact Order and I Want to Mediate?

If you do want to mediate and there is a No Contact Order and you requested the No Contact Order because the other party threatened or actually harmed you, you and/or your attorney can request that the No Contact Order be modified (changed) so that it allows you to meet only in mediation.

Who can I talk to about this to help me decide?

Talk with your attorney and your mediator about your concerns. You can also talk with a counselor or a staffperson at the local domestic violence program or shelter.


IN IOWA, CALL THE HOTLINE FOR FREE, 24-HOUR CONFIDENTIAL HELP OR ADVICE: 1-800-942-0333.


Mediation Services of Eastern Iowa

319-248-1940 | admin@mediateiowa.org
509 Kirkwood Ave., Iowa City, IA 52240

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