Doing Mediation Online? Read Our Tips From a Top Family Mediator
For several years now, the use of video technology has been trialled for family mediation. Family mediators could list any number of reasons why they felt face-to-face meetings were always preferable. But COVID-19 has changed all that.
Now, we are conducting joint meetings on Zoom every day of the week and we are helping our clients to not only resolve their parenting and financial challenges but also to master the technology. All meetings are being conducted using any number of technologies:
- FaceTime – The Apple interface
- WhatsApp video – You need to download WhatsApp
- Skype – You need to have registered a Skype name or number
- Zoom – You need to download the software from the link we send you
PREPARING YOURSELF FOR ONLINE MEDIATION
It is helpful to prepare for your online mediation meeting to avoid any frustration during the meeting. Have a check to see you have:
- A strong and reliable broadband/Wi-Fi connection. Inadequate technical quality may lead to the early termination of the meeting by the mediator. They need to know you can hear them and vice versa.
- Peace and quiet. You should be alone in a room and remain undisturbed for the duration of the meeting.
- Have a drink to hand. Be that tea, coffee, water or juice. Sorry – it must not be alcohol.
- Pen and paper. It will help the flow of the meeting online, if you make notes on the points you have and the questions you need to raise. The mediator will ensure you each have a chance to speak, as overtalking will not work online.
- A basic grasp of the technology. Try to use the technology beforehand. Acquaint yourself with how it works because mediation can be stressful without the added worry of whether you can use the technology.
- Considered putting a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door of the room or on your front door.
- Let other adults you live with know you have an important meeting. Let any children know not to disturb you and set up something to keep them occupied.
If you live with the other party still, try to find somewhere you can talk openly and freely without being heard. For joint mediation sessions, it only works if you are in separate rooms due to feedback.
WHAT YOU DO NOT NEED FOR ONLINE MEDIATION
|8. To be disturbed.||9. Focused on something else.|
|10. Your children in the same room.||11. Under the influence of drugs or alcohol.|
|12. The home phone ringing.||13. Sunlight behind you – the mediator will not be able to see your face.|
|14. A thirst you cannot quench.|
|15. To be uncomfortable.||16. Anything in the background that might divert attention from the mediation.|
|17. Taking deliveries.|
|18. Not looking at the screen.|
If conducted using Zoom, you will receive an emailed invite with a link to follow. If using FaceTime, WhatsApp video or Skype, the mediator will call you promptly at the set time. Please be ready. While you do not need to bring anything to this online MIAM, it can be helpful to prepare for it:
- You will be asked about what you are hoping to achieve through mediation. What are your aims?
- If you have specific outcomes that you want to achieve, discuss these with the family mediator.
- What questions do you want answered? Do you have any concerns about family mediation?
- Usually, the mediator will share knowledge with you during this meeting, but if there are certain things you want to know, it can be helpful to make a list of questions beforehand.
- You must be in a safe environment, i.e. not driving.
- You must engage with the mediator and look at the screen. We must satisfy the requirements of a MIAM and cannot sign off a Form A or C100 form if we are not sure you have listened and understood us.
- Time: about 60-minutes for a Standard MIAM or 20-minutes for a Court MIAM
JOINT MEDIATION MEETINGS
All joint meetings are held on Zoom. You will receive an invitation via email – this invitation will include a link and you need to click on this to join the mediation meeting.
- If you cannot join the meeting, please call our office on 0330 999 0959
- Please be prompt. When you first log on, you will be placed in a waiting room and once you are both online, the mediator will start the meeting. You can log in a few minutes early to test the software.
- Most joint meetings will last for 90-minutes, so please ensure you are comfortable.
- The chat facility in Zoom will be turned off. There should be no private communication between parties unless it is initiated and explained by the mediator. For instance, in the breakout rooms available on Zoom.
- The mediator will be able to mute either client at any time. You will not be able to unmute yourself.
- If you are muted by the mediator, do not take offence. It is just to help them control the meeting and help move the mediation forwards for you both.
- Only one person should talk at a time. If more than one person talks, then the software does not know who to connect to and all conversations get missed.
- If you need to have a break, that is fine. Just ask. If you move away from the camera, the mediator will pause the meeting. Please, do not walk around the house holding your phone or tablet.
- You must engage with the mediator and look at the screen. This is the only way that online family mediation can work successfully.
- No one should record the meeting. The Family Mediation Council have strict rules on recording mediation online and if you do, the mediator must close the session down and consider if further mediation is suitable. Nothing discussed in mediation can be used at court.
SHUTTLE ONLINE MEDIATION
Just as in mediating in person, with our online mediation service, you do not have to be in the same ‘room; as the other party you are mediating with.
- You can arrange for shuttle mediation online, where you have separate virtual rooms and the family mediator will spend 15 minutes with each of you in these rooms.
This means you do not have to actually see the other person on your screen or talk directly with them. This can be helpful to ensure parity of discussion if you have been the victim of domestic abuse or feel you would not be able to engage in the process if you can view the other party. Unlike in person mediation, there is no additional charge for shuttle mediation online.
FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE DOCUMENT EXCHANGE
Your mediator will discuss with you how your full financial disclosure is to be conducted. There are three options:
- You provide the figures to the mediator in the meeting and agree to exchange electronic copies after the meeting is concluded.
- You provide the figures to the mediator in the meeting and agree to exchange hard copies once the meeting is over.
- You submit electronic copies of all documents to the mediator in advance. Once the meeting is over, the mediator will share your documents back with both of you.
Family Mediation online allows you to resolve the issues on your parenting, property and financial issues from the comfort of your own home or office and from anywhere in the world.
And whilst it works really well in many cases, it is different to mediation face-to-face in the same room. Following these tips and guideline means you will get the best out of your online mediation appointments.
- When looking for a family mediator online, try to find one who has several years’ experience of offering online mediation services.
- You also need to make sure the mediator is recognised by the Family Mediation Council (FMC) to carry out mediation online. You can search for mediators who carry out online mediation on the FMC website here.
Mediate UK have been holding online mediation appointments since 2015 and are experienced in helping you reach an agreement this way. Have a look at our reviews to see why we are rated the No. 1 Family Mediation Service in the UK.
Give us a call today on 0330 999 0959 or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about online mediation and how it can help with your situation.
These 6 Steps have been produced by Ali Carter & the family mediators at Mediate UK.
Ali is the Managing Director of Divorce Ltd, a mediator, divorce negotiator and has previously been through a divorce himself. He has helped in over 3000 divorce or separations since 2010.