What is Online Mediation
It may be easier to start by explaining what a mediation meeting is like before I explain how it takes place online. A mediation meeting means that the separating couple meet with an independent mediator. The mediator's role is to help the couple discuss matters that they set out in an agenda. Usually the mediation meeting will take place with all three people in the same room. Sometimes, each half of the couple will be in separate rooms and the mediator will move between the couple. This is called shuttle mediation.
Online mediation is a meeting between a couple and the mediator but it takes place via video call. I use Zoom to run the meetings as Zoom has features which means I can manage the meeting in the same way as if we met in person. I will send out a zoom link and the couple will use that link to access the meeting. I will let them into the meeting when they have both entered the "waiting room" to ensure that I am with them both as I would be if we met in person. Zoom has the ability to set up breakout rooms which means shuttle mediation can take place if that is what is required.
The video platform lets me share my computer screen and share documents with the couple. If we met in person we may have a pile of agreed documents at the meeting. When the meeting is online those documents are either posted or emailed in advance of the meeting. When a mediation takes place in person I use a flipchart to record key matters throughout the meeting. When the meeting takes place online I use Word to type up these key matters. Online mediation is managed in almost the same way as if we met in person.
There are specific rules which need to be adhered to for online mediation which include :
• There cannot be anyone else present in the room /able to overhear the conversation when the mediation takes place
• The mediation meeting must not be recorded
• The quality of the internet connection must be of a good quality to enable the mediation to proceed
• Ideally, the separating couple will be in separate locations and not in the same house when the mediation takes place
I have always offered online mediation. In the past it has mainly been used where a couple are already separated and are living in locations where it is not easy for them to both travel to meet with a mediator in person. However, in the current social distancing environment, online mediation is being used for couples who are separated but still living in the same house or are still local to one another. For some couples online mediation works much better than meeting in person. For others, it takes a little time to adjust to a different way of communicating via a video call but it is my job to help you with that adjustment.