Online Mediation during COVID-19

While most family professionals are trying to ramp up their knowledge of how to work digitally, Financial Divorce Services & Family Mediation has been working with online mediations for years. Back in 2015, I completed an online mediation course which detailed how online mediation was different from in-person mediation. It’s not as simple as knowing how to use a digital platform.

Digital mediation offers the same options as in person mediation, in terms of being able to host breakout rooms to caucus with clients separately, allowing clients to connect with their lawyers, during process or hosting a lawyer-assisted mediation session. Administering the process is no different using digital aids, as it is in person.

One major difference with online mediation sessions and in-person mediation sessions is the screening session, which I prefer to call the Intake Session. Mediators are mandated to perform intake sessions which allows us to ascertain which skill sets we need to bring to the table. It also allows us to understand our clients interests and focus areas. Something else that is considered is the dynamics between the two people. Is there a power imbalance? How will they each be able to speak out for themselves in a mediation session? Is there any evidence of coercive control?

Training in online mediation is important, with considerations such as coercive control. Understanding and working with technology is easily learnt but understanding how technology affects the family dynamic is paramount.

Other than the digital differences that are taught in an online mediation training course, the same things happen in process.

  • Intake sessions are held separately with both parties.
  • Parenting mediations occur to effect a Parenting Plan.
  • Legal financial disclosure documents are prepared and a digital brief is created for the legal team
  • The financial mediation begins, with both parties, with discussion as to who keeps what and other issues that need to be considered on the financial disclosure document
  • Child and Spousal support are calculated and mediated
  • A Memorandum of Understanding is written

At any point, clients are encouraged to review mediation options with their lawyers but especially to receive independent legal advice (ILA) and have their mediated agreement penned into a legal separation agreement.

Call me if you want more information 416-729-7981.

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