• Authors' Note: This article was developed under a grant from the State Justice Institute. The points of view expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the State Justice Institute. This project required the cooperation of many people. We would especially like to thank Multnomah County Family Court judges Stephen Herrell and Elizabeth Welch and Hennepin County Family Court judges Steven Lange and Charles Porter. Special thanks go to Rose Mary Lyons of the Department of Family Services in Portland and Doneldon Dennis of the Family Court Services in Minneapolis and their respective staffs for the invaluable assistance they provided to this project. Research assistants Anne Crane, Pamela Nelson-Grotrian, and Molly Roston played a crucial role in this study, and we appreciate their contributions. Our project was guided by an Advisory Board that provided input at the start of the project and assisted at key points in the project. Members were the Honorable Susan Snow of the Cook County Circuit Court; Russell Schoeneman, Director of Maricopa County Conciliation Services; Sheila Kuehl, Director of the Southern California Women's Law Center; Daniel Sounders, associate professor at the University of Michigan; and David Levy, President of the National Council for Children's Rights. Linda Girdner and Diane Bryner, cochairs of AFCC's Domestic Violence and Mediation Committees also provided valuable input. We thank them all. Daina Farthing-Capowich served as the project monitor at the State Justice Institute. Her commitment to the project, responsiveness to necessary changes, and interest in the results was evident throughout. Ann Milne, Executive Director of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, initiated this project and oversaw it from concept to conclusion. At the Urban Institute, Bill Adams played a major role in the data analysis. Our heartfelt thanks is extended to the women and men who participated in this study.


This article reports a State Justice Institute funded research project attempting to demonstrate the difference between mediation and evaluation disputes over child custody, and visitation where domestic violence is involved. The researchers attempted to develop samples at two courts—Hennepin County Circuit Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland, Oregon.