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 greater distances apart 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 being in the room with their ex-partner.
Thankfully, with modern technology there are ways to overcome the difficulties of conducting mediation sessions at long distance.
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.
Making Skype Mediation Work
The great thing about Skype is that you will be able to see everybody on the call, this is preferable to just a conference call where meaning can be lost without seeing someone’s expressions.
However, here are some points worth bearing in mind to make the session as successful as possible:
- Be aware that arranging a time for the mediation may be a challenge, especially if both parties work. You may also be dealing with different time zones which will further complicate things.
- Make 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.
- 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 these aspects in a pre-briefing and will trial a Skype call to check connectivity.
Using Skype Mediation for High Conflict Couples
As mentioned above, it may not be a geographical obstacle that makes online skype mediation the preferable option. Sometimes there is so much emotion and ill feeling between separating couples that they would really prefer not to be in the same room.
Someone may feel very threatened by their ex-partner and whether this is well founded or not, the communication via video screen takes much of the stress and emotion out of the situation. The case study below highlights this situation.
Devon Skype Mediation Case study
Geographically Totnes and Plymouth are not worlds apart, but they might as well be for a divorcing couple going through a very stressful and high conflict 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 Totnes to be near to her parents and put some distance between herself 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. The result was arrangements that were agreed by both Amy and Richard as they had set aside their feelings for each other to focus on what was best for the children.
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 0788 903 9393.