Subtypes of Violent Separating or Divorcing Couples Seeking Family Mediation and Their Association with Personality and Criminality Characteristics

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Objectives: Family mediation is a popular alternative dispute resolution process for settling family-related issues pertaining to relationship dissolution. Some mediators rely on typologies to help understand the intimate partner violence (IPV) dynamics of mediating parties. However, little is known regarding the applicability of existing theoretically driven IPV typologies to samples of divorcing or separating couples seeking mediation. Additionally, there is a lack of data exploring potential factors, such as personality or criminality characteristics, important in explaining differences in IPV dynamics among mediating parties. The current study sought to address these issues. Method: We examined 382 separating and mediating couples using latent class analysis and confirmatory latent class analysis to test the application of the Kelly and Johnson (2008) typology, a prominent IPV typology of separating couples. We selected the best-fitting model to then detect differences across subtypes on personality and criminality characteristics. Results: The results demonstrated 4 subtypes, 2 of which are described by Kelly and Johnson. We found differences across subtypes in men’s reported levels of antisociality and number of protective orders issued against them. Conclusion: Findings suggest that IPV typologies may be helpful to mediators in understanding the IPV dynamics among divorcing or separating couples and in deciding if specific patterns of IPV are more or less conducive to the mediation process. Personality and criminality information may assist in establishing safe family arrangements. However, mediators should be careful when using typologies, as there may be subtypes in this population not described by Kelly and Johnson.

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Psychology of Violence



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Pre-print, post-print

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