Part 3. Models of practice. Mediation triage: Screening for spouse abuse in divorce mediation


  • Linda K. Girdner

    Search for more papers by this author
    • Linda K. Girdner is director of Consensus, a dispute resolution consulting firm in Alexandria, Virginia. She is chair of the Domestic Abuse Committee of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and is completing her last year on the board of directors of the Academy of Family Mediators.


The Conflict Assessment Protocol is a screening tool that can be administered in individual sessions with parties involved in a divorce-related dispute. By identifying the parties' patterns of decision making, fighting, and expressing anger, as well as their history of abusive behaviors, the mediator can assess the dimensions of power and control in the relationship and the appropriateness of mediation. A triage system is then employed to sort cases into three categories: (1) those likely to benefit with mediation conducted as usual; (2) those likely to benefit from mediation conducted with specific ground rules, resources, and skills; and (3) those more likely to experience harm, who should be excluded from mediation.