Virtual Divorce Mediation: Convenient, Efficient & Confidential
Virtual Mediation is the way forward
The COVID-19 pandemic has provided valuable insights and lessons regarding virtual divorce mediation online. Here are some key takeaways:
Adaptability and Resilience: The pandemic forced many industries, including the legal field, to adapt quickly to remote work and virtual solutions. Virtual divorce mediation emerged as a viable alternative to in-person sessions, demonstrating the resilience and adaptability of the mediation process.
Technology as a Tool: The pandemic highlighted the significance of technology in facilitating virtual communication and collaboration. Video conferencing platforms, document-sharing tools, and other digital solutions became essential for conducting virtual divorce mediation effectively.
Increased Acceptance and Adoption: The pandemic accelerated the acceptance and adoption of virtual mediation. As lockdowns and social distancing measures limited physical interactions, individuals and professionals become more open to online platforms for resolving disputes, including divorce mediation.
- Accessibility and Reach: Virtual mediation broke down geographical barriers and enhanced accessibility to mediation services. Individuals from different locations could easily connect with mediators and engage in the process, enabling a broader reach and more inclusive participation.
Efficient and Time-Saving: Virtual mediation proved efficient and time-saving for all parties involved. It eliminated the need for travel time, reducing scheduling conflicts and enabling more flexible sessions. Participants could engage in mediation from their own spaces, leading to increased productivity and convenience.
Preservation of Privacy and Confidentiality: Online platforms implemented robust security measures to protect privacy and confidentiality during virtual mediation sessions. This ensured that sensitive information and discussions remained secure, maintaining the trust and confidence of the participants.
Effective Communication and Engagement: Despite the physical distance, virtual mediation facilitated effective communication and engagement. Participants could still express their concerns, emotions, and perspectives, while mediators could employ various tools to enhance understanding and facilitate productive dialogue.
Learning from Challenges: The pandemic also highlighted particular challenges of virtual mediation, such as technical issues, internet connectivity problems, and potential limitations in non-verbal communication cues. These challenges provided an opportunity for mediators and participants to learn, adapt, and find creative solutions to ensure a smooth virtual mediation process.
Hybrid Approaches: The experience gained during the pandemic encouraged the exploration of hybrid approaches to divorce mediation, combining virtual and in-person elements. This approach allows for flexibility, tailoring the mediation process to the specific needs and preferences of the parties involved.
Virtual mediation vs in-office sessions
With our virtual mediation service, we believe in a more efficient and effective approach that respects your time and emotional energy. Instead of enduring exhausting and emotionally draining in-office sessions, we offer flexible one-hour virtual sessions, allowing you to fully engage, prepare, and absorb information at your own pace.
Virtual mediation empowers you to take breaks, maintain clarity, and participate actively without feeling overwhelmed. Say goodbye to the marathon in-office sessions that aim to break you down. Experience the benefits of a smarter and more considerate mediation process. Join us and discover the power of virtual mediation today.
Other benefits of virtual mediation include:
Convenience and Flexibility: Virtual mediation offers clients unparalleled convenience and flexibility. With online sessions, clients can participate from the comfort of their own homes or offices, eliminating the need for travel and saving precious time. The flexibility of scheduling allows participants to choose time slots that best suit their needs, reducing scheduling conflicts and facilitating a smoother mediation process.
Cost Savings: Traditional in-person mediation often comes with significant expenses such as transportation, accommodation, and meals. Virtual mediation eliminates these costs, providing clients with a more affordable alternative. This cost savings can be particularly beneficial during divorce proceedings when financial resources may already be strained.
Accessibility: Virtual mediation breaks down geographical barriers, making it accessible to clients regardless of their location. Individuals who live in remote areas or have limited mobility can now access mediation services without the need for extensive travel. This enhanced accessibility ensures that everyone has an equal opportunity to engage in the mediation process and work towards a mutually beneficial resolution.
Enhanced Privacy and Confidentiality: Privacy and confidentiality are critical aspects of any mediation process. Virtual mediation platforms offer robust security measures to protect the confidentiality of discussions and sensitive information. Clients can participate in sessions from the privacy of their own space, ensuring a confidential environment for open and honest communication.
Emotional Comfort: Separation and Divorce disputes can be emotionally challenging for clients. Virtual mediation allows clients to engage in the process within a familiar and supportive environment. Being in their own space can help ease some of the stress and anxiety associated with face-to-face meetings, enabling clients to express themselves more comfortable.
Effective Communication: Virtual mediation platforms provide various tools to facilitate effective communication between parties. Features such as videoconferencing, screen sharing, and document collaboration enable clear and efficient communication. Clients can easily share documents, present their perspectives, and engage in productive discussions, leading to a more effective mediation process.
Neutrality of the Mediator: Virtual mediation helps maintain mediator neutrality. Without physical proximity or body language distractions, mediators can focus solely on the content of the discussions. This ensures a fair and impartial facilitation of the mediation process, allowing clients to work towards mutually acceptable solutions.
Virtual mediation sessions offer clients a range of benefits, including convenience, cost savings, accessibility, enhanced privacy, emotional comfort, effective communication, and mediator neutrality. As technology continues to evolve, virtual mediation is likely to become an even more integral part of the legal landscape. Embracing this approach can lead to a more efficient, accessible, and satisfactory resolution of disputes, empowering clients to navigate their legal challenges with ease.
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Online Mediation Techniques: A Case Study
The couple concerned chose to follow online mediation techniques for four key reasons:
1) They didn’t want to air their dirty laundry in public through the courts.
2) The husband was known to shout and yell when dealing with stress.
3) They had to file their divorce in Alberta but both had moved to Ontario.
4). Their children were teenagers whose opinions needed to be heard.
THE ONLINE MEDIATION SESSIONS
The session began smoothly via video conference with both spouses interacting politely. It was when the subject of money needed to be tackled that the atmosphere took a nosedive.
According to the husband, the wife was being greedy. In her opinion, he was being cheap. Both spouses showed a determination to air their grievances every couple of minutes.
The video conferencing facility enabled me as the mediator to mute one or other of the spouses, allowing them to vent their frustrations while I was able to continue discussions with the other, calmer party.
Of course, I was still able to see the other party venting their anger, with faces turning red, objects flying across the room, even some tears. But always the venting spouse would calm down. Had such behavior happened during a mediation session in my office with both spouses in the same room, the police might have been required. But because each spouse was in their own home throwing their own objects around the place, no such move was necessary. One of the benefits of online mediation techniques!
With me able to communicate with each spouse separately, we were able to reach agreement on key issues of the separation, including spousal support and child support. In short, the wife was to take custody of the children. But trying to get the husband to agree to the standard ‘Dad Package’ of visitation rights every other weekend was a failure. He exploded again. It was time for me to hit mute and go to caucus with the wife.
When the husband had calmed down and we’d returned to a three-way conference call, it was clear to me that the wife was at her wit’s end and I knew I would have to work separately with each spouse to outline the pros and cons of their situation and hopefully guide them toward an amicable solution.
I knew I had time, as their online mediation sessions had been scheduled over three weeks. Thanks to online mediation techniques, I was able to keep the spouses apart and keep them focused.
Another advantage online mediation gave us was that it enabled us to hear the views of the couple’s children. The eldest wanted to call in from a friend’s house, something that was possible to arrange as I had interviewed an adult at that dwelling previously and had ascertained it would be an acceptable location.
Hearing the child’s views caused great emotion to swell in both spouses, and I was able to pause the session and allow the couple to step away from the process momentarily while I heard what the eldest daughter had to say.
During her interview, she too broke down and started striking out in the anger. Thankfully, the adult present with her was able to calm her down, a process I was able to watch and help manage over the video link. When she was ready to speak again, I was told by the adult with her that she had made comments about abuse. When I went to caucus with the daughter and the adult present, I discovered these were comments made in the heat of the moment.
Some problems I encountered during the session included difficulties seeing and hearing both spouses when tempers started to rise and both started making theatrical moves with their arms and bodies.
A feature of the video conferencing platform that proved very useful was the Raise Your Hand button. This was something spouses could use to alert me to the fact that they had something to say about what I or the other spouse was talking about. The function prevented either couple from interrupting the session with a smart remark.
Online Mediation Techniques For Spouses Wanting More Productive Sessions:
A speedy and fair resolution to tricky issues is what spouses seek. And with that in mind, here are some tips spouses should follow to ensure they get the results they want from online mediation:
Agree to the mediator’s stipulations about where you can be located to take part in online mediation. For example, your mediator is likely to insist on the mediation taking place:
- In a private place
- Using a private, not public, internet connection
- In a static location—ie. not while driving
- In a room with no one else in or listening in
- With no recording devices present
- With no texting, emailing, or online chatting with each other or third parties
- With total focus on the video conference and no distractions on screen
- With both spouses staying visible in the screen frame at all times, eyes focused on the camera, with head and shoulders visible unless excused by the mediator.
- With no talking while someone else is talking is allowed – parties need to be aware that if mouths move while on mute, lip reading can misinterpret what’s being said. For example, the mouth movements required to say ‘forward’ are similar to those required to say ‘f*** you’.
- No background noises in the room (such as a TV or radio) during the video conference call
- No sudden movements or hand gestures.
Try to relax and not perform too many wild gestures or movements with your hands and body, as it’s difficult for the mediator to hear or see you
Do not shout or scream, as your voice will distort and all the other people on the video conference will hear is blurbs of noise
Be sure you are conducting the online mediation from a location that has a strong internet connection
Also be sure to check the weather conditions in the area ahead of the session, as any storms can adversely affect the quality of the video conference sound and pictures.
Be prepared to be muted by the mediator until it’s your turn to speak. Your mediator will ensure you and your spouse both have equal opportunity to state your side of the story. Use the Raise Your Hand function if it’s available.
Do not bring smart phones or other devices into the mediation sessions. They can be a distraction, and the discussion needs to be between the two spouses, with no outside influences.
Both spouses should be focused on the video screen at all times. If eyes are wandering away to other things in the room, it shows lack of focus and disrespect, both of which will reduce the effectiveness of online mediation techniques.
Effective online mediation techniques
Hopefully, the case study shows how useful and effective online mediation techniques can be, especially with couples in a high-conflict relationship. And, of course, with the current environment placing severe restrictions on people’s movements and social habits, remote mediation sessions are the prime means of allowing couples seeking a separation to continue or start from scratch with their discussions to ensure an amicable split.
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Ken Maynard CDFA, Acc.FM
I help smart and successful couples, create separation agreements with clarity and soft landings for secure futures, in 4 meetings or less without all the lawyer created overwhelming conflicts, confusion and costs. You can work with me by video conference or with a DTSW associate at any of our 6 DTSW Greater Toronto mediation centers, including | Aurora | Barrie | North York | Vaughan | Mississauga | Scarborough.
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Ken Maynard CDFA, Acc.FMhttps://divorcethesmartway.ca/author/wardman/May 23, 2023
Ken Maynard CDFA, Acc.FMhttps://divorcethesmartway.ca/author/wardman/June 2, 2022
Ken Maynard CDFA, Acc.FMhttps://divorcethesmartway.ca/author/wardman/June 1, 2023
Ken Maynard CDFA, Acc.FMhttps://divorcethesmartway.ca/author/wardman/March 17, 2022