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Case Study – Online Mediation

Online Mediation Via Zoom – Resolving Children’s Arrangements

Mediation has traditionally been conducted in face to face meetings with a mediator. Over the last five years or so, with new technology available and separated couples living further apart, online video mediation has become much more widely used. And of course, with COVID-19 affecting us globally throughout 2020, the need for all mediation to be online has furthered that switch to video and online mediation.

This case study demonstrates that online mediation not only works but it can be much easier process for the separating couple. Apart from the fact that couples would rather not see each other in the flesh after separation, it is can also be better for mediation about children’s issues in particular because it reduces the emotion of seeing the other person.

Background to the Case

Fiona and Mark have three children under 6, they decided to separate in March of this year. Mark had been a way a lot with work and was sometimes gone for periods of a few weeks at a time. As a couple they had drifted apart, and Fiona felt she was doing everything on her own anyway so the split was mutual but there was a lot of anger and resentment on both sides.

The problems continued as they were unable to agree on the arrangements for the children. Mark felt he had the right to see them whenever he wanted even if it was on short notice if he was back from a work trip. Fiona wanted a commitment from him for a regular pattern of every other weekend so that it would be regular for the kids and she would also be able to make plans of her own.

With the country going into lockdown, their issues were not being resolved, things worsened as Fiona started to refuse to let Mark see the kids in case he had picked up Covid-19 whilst working away. The children were becoming very anxious and confused by not only their parents splitting up, but with the country going into lockdown too.

Initially, Mark had wanted to start court proceedings against Fiona to get a court order to see the kids. But they came to us at Progressive Mediation for the MIAM as it could be conducted online.

Online MIAM

Once both Fiona and Mark had agreed to the MIAM (mediation information and assessment meeting) we were able to conduct these initial meetings separately via Zoom. In these meetings we could see that both of them were keen to resolve the issues for the sake of the children, despite their anger towards each other. With the lockdown now firmly imposed they had had time for some reflection and were realising that they needed to find a compromise even if it would not immediately be workable due to the pandemic. There were also financial issues to be discussed as incomes were now very uncertain. At the end of each MIAM they were both agreed that they would like to proceed with mediation as it could be conducted via Zoom.

Online Mediation Sessions

We helped Fiona and Mark find a time that was suitable for them both after the children were in bed to arrange the Zoom call. Mark was now staying at his parent’s house on furlough and Fiona was self-isolating with the children at the family home due to their youngest child having severe asthma. At this point they didn’t want the children aware or involved in their discussions.

The online Zoom session worked very well for Fiona and Mark. When things got a little heated and emotional at one point, Fiona was able to turn her camera off whilst she composed herself. With the benefit of an experienced mediator to guide the discussions in a productive way, they were able to really listen to each other. For the first time in a very long time, they were able to see each other’s point of view and perspective on their situation. Mark realised how hard things had been for Fiona being left to manage the three small children for long periods of time. Fiona was now realising that Mark had been trying to make ends meet and hadn’t realised the pressure he was under at work.

The Outcome

After just two mediation sessions, Fiona and Mark had agreed to compromise; Fiona would be more flexible with when Mark could see the children. A comprehensive parenting plan was devised which they were both keen to implement just as soon as lockdown was eased. In the meantime, they arranged for two visits for Mark and the children each week so they would get some quality time together. As Mark was furloughed and isolating with his parents, Fiona was able to relax about the meetings.

Do You Need Mediation?

As experienced family mediators we can help you to mediate with ex partners and family members to resolve conflict and any issues arising from separation or arrangements for children. We are able to do this via skype, WhatsApp, Facetime, Zoom or any other video conferencing method.

We have found that video or online mediation can be easier than it is in person, the pressure of having to be in the same room as your ex is removed. It is also possible to put you in separate breakout rooms during the session, mute one of you while the other is talking or turn off the video.

If you are struggling to agree on the arrangements for your children, or any aspect of joint parenting, we can help. Call Frances now on 0788 903 9393 to find out more.

 

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