Domestic Relations Mediation Course and Viola J. Taliaferro Family and Children Mediation Clinic
This mediation program is designed for students with various goals in meeting their law school experiential education requirement. This program is designed for students who are interested in one or more of the following:
- A comprehensive clinical learning experience that includes serving as a first chair in clinical fieldwork (i.e., co-mediating with another clinical student in real-life family law cases under the supervision of the clinic director);
- Learning how to mediate in the family law context;
- Learning how to improve communication skills for use in mediation or in other legal contexts;
- Obtaining a professional license to mediate in Indiana in the domestic relations context; and
- Participating in an interdisciplinary clinical program that focuses on: (1) helping parents reduce conflict for the benefit of their children and (2) understanding and addressing appropriate ways to resolve family law problems when there is a history of concerning intimate partner violence and abuse (“domestic violence” or “IPV/A”).
Each fall, Prof. Amy Applegate teaches Domestic Relations Mediation (Course) to up to 16 students. This three-credit experiential course is the prerequisite to participation in the Viola J. Taliaferro Family and Children Mediation Clinic (Clinic).
Through the Course, second- and third-year law students (and sometimes other graduate students) learn how to conduct mediation in the family law context. The Course meets Indiana state requirements for 40 hours of mediator training in order to become registered Indiana domestic relations mediators. In accordance with state licensing requirements, experts in communications, mental health, and intimate partner violence and abuse issues teach several of the classes during the Course. In addition to Prof. Applegate, other experienced mediators periodically attend to demonstrate and/or provide feedback and coaching to students during role plays, thus exposing students to different styles of mediation.
In the Clinic, students co-mediate real-life disputes involving families with children in family law cases. The Clinic is offered each semester as a 2-4 credit experiential option, depending on the students’ level of mediation experience and time commitment. Students who take the Course and then proceed to the Clinic in one of the following two semesters typically earn four credits. Advanced level students who have taken the Clinic and return to the Clinic typically earn 2-3 credits depending on the time commitment for mentoring new clinic students and co-mediating additional cases. There is a classroom component to the Clinic, as well as regularly scheduled field work (mediation intake or negotiation sessions), supervision meetings (with Prof. Applegate and the students’ co-mediator and/or mentor), and weekly journaling requirements.
In this interdisciplinary clinical program, Prof. Applegate and the students collaborate in research and/or training with faculty and graduate level students from IU's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. The collaboration is intended to improve the mediation process for families who mediate and to assist families in focusing on, and reaching agreements that best meet, their children's needs.
As a trained mediator, students assist low-income families and provide help in reducing court dockets while gaining marketable legal skills. Most cases involve custody, parenting time, child support, and related divorce or paternity issues between parents or guardians. Despite the focus on developing students’ mediation skills, the overarching pedagogical goal of the program is to learn and improve communication skills that will be useful in many legal contexts. Additionally, in mediation practice, Clinic students focus on two areas: (1) helping parents reduce conflict for the benefit of their children and (2) understanding and addressing appropriate ways to resolve family law problems when there is a history of concerning intimate partner violence and abuse (“domestic violence or “IPVA”).
- B563: Domestic Relations Mediation Course description
- B691: Viola J. Taliaferro Family and Children Mediation Clinic course description