Ideally, mediation sessions for separating couples work best if both parties can be present in the same room with their mediator. However, this is not always possible with people living far away from each other with heavy work commitments or perhaps child care issues. Some couples may even live in different countries after they separate. Also, if the split has been particularly traumatic, one party may not feel comfortable actually being in the room with their ex-partner.
Thankfully, with modern technology there are ways to overcome the difficulties of conducting mediation sessions where it isn’t possible for all involved to be in the same place at the same time.
Mediation via skype is a popular choice, as you can join the meeting using a laptop, tablet or even just your smart phone. You would still need to prepare fully before the meeting and ensure that there would be no distractions during the session. Here are some points worth bearing in mind:
- Be aware that arranging a time for the mediation may be a challenge in itself, especially if both parties work. You may also be dealing with different time zones which will further complicate things.
- Make absolutely sure that you have completely uninterrupted time for the session. Just because you can take the mediation session from your sofa doesn’t mean your children should be around to walk in, listen in or distract you. If the mediation is about arrangements for them it is especially unwise for them to be privy to any sessions.
- The great thing about Skype is that you will be able to see everybody, this is preferable to just a conference call where meaning can be lost without seeing someone’s expressions. However, be mindful of the time delay that might occur. Everyone will need to be briefed to speak slowly and clearly.
- There may be breaks in the connection which will mean some of what you say may need to be repeated. If one person’s internet connection is very slow there may be multiple interruptions, loss of sound or visual which may be frustrating. Your mediator will check all of these aspects in a pre-briefing and will trial a Skype call to check connectivity.
As mentioned above, it may not be a geographical obstacle that makes online skype mediation the preferable option. Someone may feel very threatened by their ex-partner and whether this is well founded or not, the fact that the two people are seeing each other via video screen takes much of the stress and emotion out of the situation. In the case study below this very situation is highlighted.
Bristol and Devon Mediation Case study
Geographically Bristol and Devon are not worlds apart, but they might as well be for a divorcing couple going through a very stressful and tempestuous marriage break up. Amy (as we will call her), was so distraught by her situation that she moved herself and her four children down to Devon to be near to her parents and also put some distance between them and her soon to be ex-husband.
Whilst this alleviated tensions in the home environment for the children, it became clear very soon that Amy and Richard (as we will call him) needed help to reach resolution on every aspect of their split. The most pressing was that Richard was wanting to see his children on a regular basis, but communication had broken down so much that no arrangement could be made. Amy realised that the children were becoming distressed by the situation. But she couldn’t bring herself to even be in the same space as Richard.
Skype mediation was the perfect solution for these parents. The fact that they were not in the same room took all the trauma from the situation for Amy who was highly emotional. With careful guidance from the mediator, the couple were able to discuss a set of agreements which related to the children’s arrangements as well as the financial disputes that they were having. It meant compromise on both sides but both of them felt that the outcome was fair.
Can we Help?
Here at Progressive Mediation, we are very experienced in all aspects of family mediation and have resolved many disputes between divorcing couples, including international mediation cases. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you then please call us on 0117 924 3880.