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History of Domestic Violence in your present relationship? Read on…

You have found the Tampa Friendly Divorce blog, which means you are interested in our divorce mediation process and all the advantages this process has to offer to you and your family.  However, you are also reading our blog related to Domestic Violence (physical, mental, financial, etc.), so there are a few items I would like to highlight:

  1. One of the core principles of any mediation is Self-Determination – that each party has free will to decide if he or she is interested in negotiating and/or agreeing to any terms of a potential deal.
  1. In Divorce Mediation specifically, one of the major stumbling blocks to realizing Self-Determination can be a history of Domestic Violence (DV). If one party has used DV to obtain power, then, as mediators, we may question if the other party is truly exercising self-determination, or if the threat of further DV is removing or decreasing that possibility.

Since we at Tampa Friendly Divorce are mediators, not mental health professionals, once we hear about a history of domestic violence, we cannot ethically mediate your divorce because we feel the risks (around whether the parties truly can exercise self-determination) are too great to move forward with the process.  Thus, typically, we would recommend that parties in that situation follow the traditional “attorney-driven divorce” route.  And, while mediation may still (eventually) be part of that process, an attorney will be available to ensure your rights, and your family’s rights, are protected.

However, Chris and I were fortunate enough to have Mental Health Counselor Linda Peterman, CRC, LMHC , stop by our office last week.  One of our major points of discussion was DV and mediation.  Linda helped us gain a deeper understanding of the various types of DV that exist, and how some types of DV might not hinder a partner from expressing self-determination during a divorce mediation meeting!

Excellent – but, again, we are not qualified to make that determination.  Luckily, Linda is!

So the best news is:  if you have a history of DV in your present relationship, and you are interested in Divorce Mediation, we can now refer you to Linda Peterman.  She can work with you to determine if Tampa Friendly Divorce (pre-suit, pro se divorce mediation) is an option, or if you are best served by the protection afforded by the traditional attorney-driven divorce model.  If she (or whichever counselor you may choose) agrees that, even with your relationship history, you have the ability to exercise self-determination in mediation, you can give permission to the counselor contact us and clear the way for your Tampa Friendly Divorce mediation process to begin!

If you have more questions on Divorce Mediation and Domestic Violence or if would like to schedule an appointment , you can contact Linda: 813-404-3174; LindaMPeterman@earthlink.net.   Her website is  www.CounselingTampa.com.

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