Virtual Mediation and Representation
We are all finding new ways to be creative and move our lives forward during the COVID-19 pandemic. For those of us that want to carry on, it has been a relief to be able to talk and work together to address the challenges we are all facing in one way or another. The court system is currently closed, except for emergency situations. In my opinion, that is all the more reason to use mediation and collaborative efforts to resolve our family matters. I think we can bring relief to ongoing situations in this way. It does work!
Many businesses and industries have had to make sudden, drastic adjustments due to the impact of preventing the spread of COVID-19. While many are experiencing disruptions in their work, others may be adjusting to new ways of accomplishing their daily tasks. The legal industry is one, which cannot close its doors. As a family law attorney, I have made adjustments of my own to continue serving my clients. One of these adjustments is to offer virtual mediation.
Many clients feel that working virtually helps restore a sense of normalcy in taking control of their lives. We are able to address urgent and other issues in a productive way. Since March, I have been conducting all of my ongoing mediations as well as new mediations by zoom conferencing. Once we commit to working in this way, we are able to move forward in prioritizing what is important to each family and working to develop options that resolve the situation.What can you expect when you engage in virtual mediation?
All meetings are scheduled by zoom conference at a mutually convenient time. Skype video calling and FaceTime calling may also be used for virtual mediation. Expanded hours are available in order to address the needs of clients balancing work schedules and children’s needs. A laptop or phone with a camera is needed. Once the meeting is scheduled a link is sent to access the meeting. Written agreements can continue to be drawn up and signed, as there has been an Executive Order that allows for notarizing documents virtually. Couples can move their case along and be prepared to file an uncontested divorce once the court opens for filings.What is the virtual mediation process?
Mediation is a voluntary process where a neutral third party facilitates communication between two parties to help them reach a mutually acceptable resolution of their dispute. Virtual mediation follows the same process as traditional mediation, with the caveat being that the parties may be spread across multiple locations and meeting with the mediator over a video conference. While video mediation may have some different characteristics than traditional mediation, it also brings certain benefits that may be helpful for some people through the process.Engaging in mediation in the comfort of one’s own space
As a mediator, one of my goals is to provide a space where both parties feel comfortable. When virtual mediation is used, the parties can be in separate locations. Although this setup is not conventional, I have found that most people adjust to this aspect of virtual mediation in a positive way, as each party has the ability to engage in discussions in his/her own safe space. On the other hand, I am also working with couples that share the same space and the same computer in our virtual meetings. It is for each couple to decide what works best. Mediation sessions are truly productive when parties avail themselves to the process and choose to communicate openly and honestly. The ability to be in one’s own home, office, or other private space may make the communication process less stressful.Taking tension out of the room
A benefit to in-person mediation is the ability to communicate not only through the dialogue, but also through some of the unspoken elements that come with parties being in the same room. While this can provide benefit, it also comes with some added tension that may occur from everyone in the same space. With virtual mediation, parties may feel less tension by simply being in a different place than each other. All of the elements are still present – facial expressions, the language used, etc.; however, having physical separation may be less stressful for some people. That being said, some of my clients attend the session together and that can work as well.Added availability for discussions
It is important to note that traditional in-person mediation and virtual mediation both provide clients with informed choices and facilitated discussions in which clients make their own decisions rather than have a third party decide. Regardless of the method, a trained and experienced mediator will be able to work with parties and facilitate discussions.Learn more or Schedule a Virtual Mediation Session:
For more information on scheduling a virtual mediation session, please email Deborah Hope Wayne at: Deborah@deborahwaynelaw.com, or call her at 914-365-1200. While the office is currently closed, Deborah continues to be available by phone and email.