What if you feel that attending dispute resolution might be unsafe?
Unfortunately, domestic disputes can lead to feelings of anger and resentment, which can manifest itself through violence. Sometimes violence is even the reason couples are seeking a divorce. If you and your former spouse have a particularly tumultuous relationship you may feel as though sitting in the same room and being forced to talking about your issues could escalate into violence.
So what do you do if dispute resolution is a mandatory step before you can apply to the court for child related orders?
The requirement to undertake dispute resolution is waived in situations where there has been a history of, or there exists a risk of, family violence or child abuse. The court has no expectation that you will attend dispute resolution if your safety is at issue in any way.
If your situation is not extreme enough to call for a waiver of this requirement, the logistics of your dispute resolution session may be altered to accommodate your apprehension. For instance, it may be possible to conduct the session with the parties in different rooms rather than siting face to face.
Your safety prior to, during, and after dispute resolution is of paramount importance. If you have any concerns about violence you should notify your family dispute practitioner or a staff member at the dispute resolution center immediately. You should also be vocal about this concern with your lawyer if you have one. Do not be afraid to bring this up – your safety is nothing to be shy about.