Town Hall Series: COVID-19 Won’t Stop Family Mediators

Part 5: Screening Online for Domestic Violence



Stacey Langenbahn: I agree with Marilyn about having the skills to recognize the threat of DV whenever it occurs and then knowing what to do.

Anna Tyrrel: I think we are ahead of this in Ohio.  Our mediators (who take court cases) are required to take a Domestic Abuse training. It’s a 2-day training.

KCDRC: And, unlike other webinars, we can ask questions! My biggest is around the difference between DV and child abuse, and how to address the differences. I personally do not take cases with CPS involved.

APFM Mediators: Yes, attendees may use the Q&A function to ask questions. The panel will address them, as possible, in a manner aimed at not disrupting the flow of panel conversation.

Clotilde Eaker: Here’s my contact info:  Ms. Clotilde Eaker, Mediator; [email protected];;; https://www.linkedin/feed/;; 936-648-6009; 406 N Thompson Suite 200,

Conroe, TX 77301-2671

We are affiliated with Texas Association of Mediators, Texas Credentialing Mediators Association, and Montgomery County Mediation Group

Ephesians 4:31-32 New International Version (NIV): 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Amy Robertson: I am also from Canada and mediate under the BC Family Law Act – we are required under the FLA to screen for DV, and so, as part of the pre-meeting, all clients are told we will be doing this as a requirement, and it does normalize it and, as a mediator in private practice, I have never had someone not participate due to this screening. This is also why I was surprised to learn that a lot of family mediators in the U.S. do joint pre-meetings, as I would be unsure how you screen for DV with a joint pre-meeting

Savenia Falquist: Safety Planning is essential in assessment.

Williams: Will cites for these tools be shared with participants?  That would be very helpful.

Paty: Learning about domestic violence allows the mediator to educate the survivor. Also, knowing about domestic violence should allow the mediator to do a reality test/safety plan with the survivor.  An informed mediator will make the negotiation easier for the survivor.

Stacey Langenbahn: What is the name of that person to check for these materials?

Anna Tyrrell: This again was addressed in Ohio in the mid 90s. The hospitals were required to screen. I was intricately involved in developing screening questions, protocol, and policies, and pared the questions down.

Melissa Ellis: Where can we find the questionnaire for screening?

Chuck Hill: Assuming whatever assessment one uses, suggests there is or has been DV, what does that then mean to how mediators proceed?

Elizabeth Hyde: All our forms, including in-take, are on the Riverdale mediation website

Paty: DV present, and/or a Protection Order in place? Refer the parties to a mediator trained in Specialized Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Herb Kroon: I am a private mediator. I hand out a D.V. screening tool.  A panelist mentioned that she does a 1 1/2 hour screening. I am afraid that such a long screening would drive clients away.

Ginny Schneider: So, in court, I know that we report DV, but, for private mediation, what is the reporting that you do?

APFM Mediators: An attendee has asked that when an acronym is used, can it be defined.

Amy Robertson: What if these participants were willing to mediate with counsel?

Anna Tyrrell: We use Sue’s concept and refer to the “capacity to mediate.”

Stacey Langenbahn: Sometimes the case can be mediated after the court has been involved, to quell certain conduct, and there are treatments initiated, etc.  The mediator does not have control without the power of the court behind them.

Gil Jones: Do you typically mediate with counsel present? If so, or when you do, to what extent do you defer the IPV question to counsel?

Amy Robertson: Some files are very troubling, but I ask myself – if “Do no harm” – is a guiding principle, then sometimes not mediating would do harm. There are often ways to proceed forward, carefully, with adjusted protocol, or requiring with counsel mediation.

Melissa Povoski-Smith: SAFETY PLANNING #1.

Stacey Langenbahn: How to do the safety planning?  This should be a part of every mediation, no?  Because we may not see the problem right away. Please address what to do when you see DV in a case.

Chuck Hill: Yes. Stacey, that’s what we need to examine!

Melissa Povoski-Smith: If you see red flags. explore them, remember the parties’ right for self-determination.  Give them a scenario, and ask them how the other party would react or act.  They will know.

Laury Adams: In cases without severe DV, do you check for guns in the household? With restraining orders, it gives victims a false sense of protection. I’ve had a client who was killed with these orders.

vspetter: I strongly disagree with what the panelists are saying about Orders of Protection be meaningless for unemployed or under employed people. Violations mean incarceration.

Darlene: I believe that the only way to deal with the family who has DV issues that are violent… depends on you. What kind of person are you? Your intuition plays a significant role in your decision to take it on. Some may be able to deal, without being scared, and witty enough to talk to a very upset person. Whereas, others may be too scared to feel comfortable. Therefore, the original assessment or original conversation should be your determination point. Lots of time in the original conversation; lots can be learned when listening, instead of trying to ascertain purpose. (During the 1st conversation).

Stacey Langenbahn: I tell people call the police first, then, when safe, call CPS, if children are in danger, and always have a getaway bag if you need to leave fast. I also provide them a link for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.  Then, I have, at least, given them comprehensive info about what to do in emergency, for their safety. And, decide if mediation is right in all the ways you are talking about.

Melissa Povoski-Smith: Good stuff Stacey!!

KCDRC: Many co-parents feel they are still a couple, and throughout their break up–makeup phases, pay no attention to protection orders that they themselves requested. I empathize, but can we take them seriously,

Jocelyn  “Jocie”  Wurzburg: I find an interesting question is, “Who is the treasure of the household?”

Melissa Povoski-Smith: Agree with Sue, separate is important.

Paty: I’m sad to hear from the panel that their experience tells them a Protection Order is not useful. The Protection Order has a purpose, and it can be very helpful, but it is up to the survivor to understand it and to enforce it. Once again, the mediator educating and referring the survivor to the Domestic Violence Center in the area, or to a counselor with experience with the issue.

Darlene: Yes, Sue is gaining insight from each, first. She also has tough skin. 🙂 therefore, it allows her to refrain from rejection.

Laury Adams: Do you check for guns in the household???

Herb Kroon: Who pays for the DV screening, or is it done at no charge?

Melissa Povoski-Smith: no

Margaret Beazley: In screening for DV or IPV, we tell clients that this screening is being presented to each party.

Jennifer Kresge: If you knew neither of them had access to each other’s email, you could email the questionnaire (if there were no other options).

Amy Robertson: In BC, the mediator is responsible for the screening. The way a client answers my screening questions is so important for my understanding, that I would not out-source this to a form or another staff member.

Herb Kroon: I fear that private clients would baulk at paying me @ $ 400 for a DV evaluation. How do you explain to them how important this is?

Stacey Langenbahn: In Texas, you just assume they have guns.

Herb Kroon: Glad I don’t live in Texas!

Clotilde Eaker: That’s the truth

Stacey Langenbahn: I also have a wireless panic button in my office under the table right where I sit, in case it is needed for anybody.

Joanna Roth: My experience matches Ellen’s comment—I find that I need to get quickly into why people are in mediation, and, a detailed and extensive set of questions about DV requires a lot of patience for many of my prospective clients.

Paty: I call it an interview/ pre-mediation session.

Melinda Milberg: I may have missed it, but what is confidentiality of the separate intakes?

Herb Kroon: This conversation was very helpful: an hour intake that talks about more than DV. People want an opportunity to talk about themselves. Excellent idea!

Paty: Caucus, code word, leaving first.

Harry Manasewich: How can “intake” be confidential when the Agreement to Mediate has not been signed yet?

Stacey Langenbahn: And then lock the meeting once they are in.

Barbara Fenster: I like “Never leave together.” But how does that translate in Zoom?

Elizabeth Hyde: We sign the Agreement to mediate at the intake.

Herb Kroon: “Collaborative” lawyers can be quite helpful.

Paty: I would not request the attorney to be at the mediation. I’m not paying their legal fee. However, if the client says, “I want my attorney at the mediation,” I honor the request. Exactly! Client needs legal advice, before signing a legally-binding document.

Stacey Langenbahn: I had a call today where husband was arrested for trying to strangle her, has pulled his paycheck from the joint account, and is tracking her car, phone, and emails, and is an untreated alcohol abuser. He lives with six other people, and she is afraid of the kids being with him because of COVID. I suggested she consider seeing an attorney for protection for her money and to end the tracking, and to get H into treatment if necessary, and then come on back for mediation, if they are willing to that.

Clotilde Eaker: I thought that was the law. A client may ask for a lawyer at any time. They can ask to use the law library for clarification, as well.

Rebecca Arndt: I do not understand his reference to a decree.  Is it a mediated settlement agreement?

Herb Kroon: In Minnesota, mediators are not allowed to draft court documents.  The Mediation Agreement must be converted into a legal document that would either be prepared by an attorney or by using a court form.

Clotilde Eaker: They can ask the law librarian to come in for help at any time.

Melissa Povoski-Smith: I do, all the time, encourage legal advice; most clients don’t do it.

Miriam Kosowsky: Approve the agreement if an attorney has reviewed it.

Herb Kroon: I agree with what Sue said. Sometimes people make knowing choices to accept less than what they might entitled to.  I once represented a client in a divorce who wanted to settle for much less. I couldn’t talk him out of it.

Miriam Kosowsky: I blame the judge, and say that  a judge may not approve the agreement if it is so one-sided.

Clotilde Eaker: In Texas, before you can add a family law certification, you have to take a family violence class, along with how to do intakes.

Jennifer Kresge: So glad you’re doing that Marilyn!

Diane Harvey: Texas requires 4 additional hours of domestic violence training.

Verlyn Francis: In Zoom, you put the parties in different breakout rooms, and you can remove them individually from the meeting.

Candace Dochstader: NH requires 8 hours.

Paty: Excellent advice! training in DV issues or Intimate Partner Abuse; information about the resources in your area for survivors of DV, and updating what other resources are in your community.

Anisa Ali: Great discussion, fantastic questions, and wonderfully informative panelist. Love the expertise. Great job, all. Amazing learning.

Miriam Kosowsky: How do you deal with affluent people who know how to cover up DV and may not tell you?

Jane Stephenson: Suggest you look at what is required by Texas for mediators wanting to do family cases.  Texas requires extra training in family law & another training in DV.

Chuck Hill: TN requires 12 hours.

Susan Bulfinch: Very helpful information, and thank you all for your time and insight. Such an important topic and conversation.

Stefanie Beninato: I think it so interesting that all the panelists are female (not counting Michael, the facilitator).

Clotilde Eaker: This is required for Texas Mediators and lawyers who are going to practice family law.

Herb Kroon: The Domestic Abuse community’s training has evolved. They are always looking for newer, better ways to obtain information. I immediately noticed that the panel was all female and wondered why.

Clotilde Eaker: More battered women than men, but there also are battered men.

[email protected]: Thank you! Great discussion!

Melinda Milberg: Thank you all for great information

Sharon Comet-Epstein: Thank you!

Marcie Kraft: Great discussion!  Thank you!  Stay well.

Melissa Povoski-Smith: Great information thanks for all the information and discussion.

Julie Gill: It was a great conversation! Thank you.

Jocelyn “Jocie” Wurzburg: Well done, thanks

Paty: Thank you, panelists, and Moderator!

Herb Kroon: Thanks to all of you!

Miriam Kosowsky: Thank you to the panelists and to APFM for putting this important webinar together.

Bob Lindemeier: Very interesting, thank you all.

Sharon Comet-Epstein: OH mediators need 14hrs CLE.

Enrique Koenig: Thank you for this valuable information.

Amy Robertson: Thank you for your time and contributions!

Sharon Comet-Epstein: Thank you!!

KCDRC: Very interesting and current! Thank you!!

Susan Bulfinch: Great job, Michael.

Brian James: Awesome talk.

Jim Melamed: Thanks to all–from

Clotilde Eaker: Thank you for the great help.

Brian B. Egan: Thank you!

vivian kerenyi: Has there been an agreement to send intake and screening protocol info?

Jane Stephenson: Thank you again!

Sharon Parisi: Thank you to all.  This was exceptional!  Much food for thought.

NCRC Mediator01: Thank you!

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