The Indiana University Maurer School of Law and IU’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences have been awarded a four-year, $763,686 grant from the National Institute of Justice to study safety concerns in family mediation.
The project will examine whether mediation is a safe alternative to court-based litigation in cases with a history of domestic violence. Experts are divided on whether family mediation is a useful alternative or whether the parties with a record of violence can be adequately protected from physical and emotional harm during mediation.
Amy Applegate, director of the Viola J. Taliaferro Family and Children Mediation Clinic, is a member of the research team.
“Despite the use of protective measures such as shuttle or videoconferencing mediation, the appropriateness of mediation has been a source of controversy in cases involving intimate-partner violence,” Applegate said. “The NIJ’s generous grant also makes it possible to measure the effectiveness of mediation in these cases.”
Amy Holtzworth-Munroe, professor at IU Bloomington’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, is the co-principal investigator for the study.
IU researchers will subcontract with co-principal investigator Connie J.A. Beck at the University of Arizona and with partners from the D.C. Superior Court’s Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division.
The study, to take place at Multi-Door, will consist of a randomized control trial of family mediation with couples that have a history of violence which Multi-Door would generally consider inappropriate for alternative dispute resolution. The cases will be randomly assigned to one of three study conditions: traditional court-based litigation, shuttle mediation or videoconferencing mediation.
Immediate and one-year outcome measures have been established, and a one-year follow-up study will be conducted to evaluate continuing intimate-partner violence and fear-related issues.
Results of the study will be published in interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journals, reports and presentations to stakeholders with the goal of informing mediators, judges and courts.