I think it is fair to say that the Family Mediation Council have not embraced online mediation and see that face-to-face family mediation is the best way to resolve disputes on parenting and finances during your divorce or separation.
When you are in a room together you get a better feel for the chemistry and atmosphere taking place. But you can also engage more in tit-for-tat arguments and overtalking each other.
Mediate UK have been holding online mediation appointments since 2015 and we have found a formula that works well – 90% of our clients go on to reach an agreement through joint mediation. It helps make us the No. 1 rated family mediation service in the UK.
How does online mediation work?
We arrange an initial session with just you and your trained mediator first. This allows you to explain your situation, what you would like to happen and address any concerns you may have. These initial sessions can be held via Facetime, Zoom or WhatsApp Video.
If they are not already engaged in the process, we can then formally invite the other party to family mediation for their initial session.
Remember – in most cases this initial session, a mediation information and assessment meeting – also called a MIAM is the minimum legal requirement before you can submit an application to the court. There is a presumption that we will invite the other party to mediation, except in cases where it is not suitable to do so. Find out more about what happens in a MIAM here.
We hold these session via Zoom. You will be sent an invite and can just click on the link to enter the meeting. We ensure all our rooms are secure and the mediator will be trained on running the zoom meeting. Screens can be shared and financial details swapped all within the same meeting – you can even have a break-out room if you need one.
Top tips for online mediation
- Try to ensure you have a quiet room to yourself and put a ‘do not disturb’ on that room and the front door.
- If you are still living together, make sure you are in separate rooms for the meeting. It doesn’t work if you are in the same room together.
- Ensure any children are looked after and know not to disturb you during the meeting
- Have any financial information you need to share up on your computer or be able to email it.
- Remember you can use Zoom on a laptop, tablet or mobile phone.
- Consider your background and what is behind you.
Does it work?
The short answer is yes!
Mediation meetings tend to progress quicker as it is only possible for one person to talk at a time. Your family mediator will control the meeting, ensuring everything is covered and can even mute one party if they need to.
Meetings can be set up quicker than face-to-face meetings, most people need fewer meetings and remember anything agreed can be made legally binding through one of our fixed fee packages.
What if we cannot agree?
You can still apply to court and, by having your initial meeting with the accredited mediator, we can sign and release the court form for your case.
The courts are still operating and are now holding remote hearings – so if you go to court for a legally binding order, you will usually be reliant on using Skype. So you might as well try mediation first – it could just save you a lot of time, stress and money.