Online Family Mediation Services
At Consilia Mediation we are able to offer our clients a fully comprehensive mediation service including online family mediation. Online mediation for families has become more prevalent in the mediation arena following the Coronavirus crisis in a time where face to face sessions were not possible. Online sessions are something which we have previously offered to clients where for example the parties live far apart and/or where face to face mediation is not suitable. Online mediation also enables us to offer our services throughout the UK including London based clients and not just clients in the local Yorkshire area.
How Online Family Mediation Works
Before mediation can begin, it is necessary in every case for each party to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, more commonly known as a MIAM. At this initial session the mediator provides information on how mediation can assist, and each party has the opportunity to speak to the mediator alone and explain their current situation. At the end of the session, the mediator will assess whether they think mediation is a suitable means to resolve the dispute and each party will decide whether they would be willing to attend a joint session. If the answer from both the mediator and the parties is ‘yes’ then the mediator will make arrangements for a joint session between the parties and the mediator. Where a mediation is to take place online, we offer a range of options for our clients when it comes to video call applications. Where an individual has a smartphone or tablet device, video calls can take place by downloading a quick app or alternatively the video call can take place using a more traditional computer or laptop. Video calls can take place by the following methods: Zoom; Skype; Microsoft teams; Facebook messenger; Facetime; As long as a client has access to one of the above programs, we can facilitate an online mediation. We will often suggest Zoom to our clients as this allows video conferencing with multiple people and it enables parties to share documents and access the screen sharing facility
How To Set Up Zoom
If you would like to make an appointment through Zoom the mediator will email you an appointment slot and you will be sent a link. You can click on the link when the meeting is due to take place and you will be joined into the meeting. It is not necessary to download the app initially but it is advisable to familiarise yourself with the program. Once both parties and the mediator have joined the meeting, the three of you will be able to see and hear each other from your device.
For financial mediation sessions, the parties will each submit their financial disclosure via email or through Zoom where appropriate and this will be shared with the other party. The mediator will discuss in the individual MIAM appointment the process of financial disclosure. It is most likely that the mediator will carry out some work to prepare documents such as an asset schedule before the joint session takes place in order to allow the session to be as productive as possible.
Online Shuttle Mediations
Some parties prefer not to have any face to face contact with their ex partner during mediation and wish for mediation to take place on a shuttle basis. Traditionally, this is where the mediator goes back and forth between the parties in separate rooms. Shuttle mediations can also be offered online and the mediator will go back and forth via video call to each party.
I will be in the house with my ex-partner and children, is online mediation appropriate?
As mediators we always encourage parties to ensure that any children are not privy to discussions surrounding their separation. The current situation is no exception to that. For mediation to work remotely, parties will need to ensure that children are not in earshot when the session takes place. For some this may be difficult with young children and the inability to ask others to watch them. If you are concerned about this, please contact one of our mediators to discuss further options available.
I live with my husband, can we log on together using one screen?
There is no reason why both parties cannot be in the same room using the same device if they both wish to do so. It is however important for both parties to respect the discussions which take place with the mediator present and when the video call ends refrain from continuing the discussion unless both parties wish to do so in which case they would need to report back to the mediator at the next session. Again if this is a concern, please contact the mediator to discuss further and consider other options.
I only have limited access to the internet?
Unfortunately, without access to the internet or mobile data the video call cannot take place and other options may need to be explored before mediation can take place.
I am worried my ex-partner will simply talk over me and the mediator if we’re not round a table!
It is the mediators responsibility to manage the mediation room whether in person or virtually. Whether a mediation takes place round a table or online, the mediator will ensure that both parties have an opportunity to be heard and that any power imbalance is dealt with appropriately.
I’m concerned that I may not be able to be as assertive on a screen than I would be round a table and end up agreeing to points that I’m not happy about.
In mediation, we encourage parties to reflect on discussions and not to feel pressured into reaching proposals without sufficient time to process the options. The same applies to online mediation sessions. We would therefore suggest that there is more than one session so that each party can consider the other parties proposals in their own time and also obtain independent legal advice. As with round table mediations, if you wish to involve your solicitor in the online mediation that can be arranged.
Consilia Mediation is an experienced and fully qualified family mediation service in Leeds, Harrogate and London.