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The Center’s Domestic Violence and Mediation Safety Project includes and intimate partner protocol that applies to all cases involving intimate partners, whether or not they are referred from court and regardless of the program. Intimate partners are defined as people who share(d) a romantic and/or sexual relationship. Examples of intimate partners include:

Wife/Husband

Ex-Wife/Ex-Husband

Boyfriend/Girlfriend

Ex-Boyfriend/Ex-Girlfriend

Girlfriend/Girlfriend

Ex-Girlfriend/Ex-Girlfriend

Boyfriend/Boyfriend

Ex-Boyfriend/Ex-Boyfriend

Child In Common

The purpose of the Intimate Partner Protocol is to screen for domestic violence, so that the Center can increase safety for victims while consistently responding to their choice whether or not to mediate. Domestic violence is defined as follows:

Domestic violence (relationship abuse) is a systematic and progressive pattern of abuse perpetrated by the batterer with the goal of gaining and maintaining power and coercive control over the victim. Typically, the abusive behaviors take the form of varying levels and degrees of emotional, psychological, economic, sexual, and physical abuse.

If an intimate partner case is referred to the Community Program prior to the court date, each party is contacted according to normal procedure. If both parties wish to mediate, each is required to come into the Center separately for an extensive intake, which is a private, face-to-face, confidential meeting.

Following the intakes, if both parties still want to proceed with mediation, the Center will review the case to determine whether to accept the case. If the Center accepts the case, the mediation will be scheduled to take place at the Mediation Center. If parties do not come in for an extensive intake, no mediation will be scheduled.

The Mediation Center, in accordance with NYS ADR office policy, does not permit court mediators to mediate any cases at court involving parties who have been intimate partners. Although all courts have been notified of this policy, individual judge may still attempt to refer intimate partner cases to on-site mediation. When possible, court mediators will be notified of any intimate partner cases pending in court and instructed not to mediate these cases. However, may encounter cases at court that have had no prior referral to the Mediation Center. If the Center has not been advised of the case or of the nature of parties’ relationship prior to court, it is the responsibility of the mediator to learn whether parties are or have been intimate partners. Mediators may simply ask, “How do you know each other?”

In the case that mediators unexpectedly come upon or are referred an intimate partner case, they should explain that the parties must contact the Center for an intake if they wish to proceed with mediation at another date. If necessary, parties may request an adjournment from the court if they wish to mediate.

Mediators are not expected to explain the Center’s policies in detail, but they are encouraged to offer information to parties about how to proceed with their case if they are interested in mediation.