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Mediating Your Divorce Online: A Good Option in this Time of Court Closures and Social Distancing

Mediating Your Divorce Online: A Good Option in this Time of Court Closures and Social Distancing
May 8, 2020 Rachel Alexander, Esq.

{4 minutes to read}  In the midst of the Covid crisis, what are divorcing couples — and would-be divorcing couples — supposed to do now? What are the options for moving forward when the world is paused?

We mediators are adapting our practices to accommodate clients and the public, to help those we serve move forward, even when movement is restricted. Since travel to see a mediator (or any other professional) is largely prohibited, and the courts are unable to operate at full capacity, mediators are finding and improving upon ways to serve.

Particularly now, mediation can do what traditional litigation cannot. Not only is mediation more nimble, but many mediators, including those at AMG, are set up to do video conferencing where parties can mediate from the safety and comfort of their own homes. Online mediation can provide one of the only immediate interventions for families in marital crisis.

With online mediation we can do multiple things:

  • Support social distancing while assisting couples to work through and finalize their divorces
  • Provide real-time problem solving and relief for clients living in conflict
  • Develop interim agreements to address current, novel issues families are facing, including working from home; sheltering in place; extended sharing of one home; sharing parenting time and responsibilities; and communicating with the children about what is going on
  • Finalize Marital Settlement Agreements, uncontested pleadings and process the divorce through online channels now available through the courts
  • Relieve the sense of inertia and help families move forward even while so much seems suspended

Online mediation, though a different animal, has some benefits that in-person mediation does not. The two main issues are dealing with technology and mediating from your own home.

Technology 

Of course, using new technology can bring on anxiety for the best of us. To meet this challenge, a few things are helpful. Adopt a patient, gentle attitude with yourself and all others on the video call. Humor doesn’t hurt either. Regardless of our varying levels of experience using Zoom or other virtual conferencing platforms, we are collectively entering a different reliance upon them. The virtual medium has become one of the few ways we can connect with one another and accomplish things while adhering to stay-in-place and social distancing guidelines. This sudden reliance on video meeting technology — something most people haven’t had to acquaint themselves with until now — can feel pressured and unnatural. We didn’t get much of a dress rehearsal for this!

Mediating from Home

Mediating from home requires finding a place in the home that is private. This may fall into the category of “easier said than done.” Depending upon the culture of your particular home, gaining an uninterrupted hour or so may be a radical shift for your co-inhabitants. Homes are often places with fluid boundaries, where a closed door is interpreted as a mere suggestion, and an “emergency” is: “I’m bored!” or “Can you reach this for me?” With some planning, you can make sure the kids and other third parties are taken care of so you can be free(ish) from distraction and fear of intrusion.

Our upcoming articles will provide specific guidance and suggestions on working with technology and creating a protected space for yourself regardless of your living situation.

Rachel Alexander

Rachel Alexander
Alexander Mediation Group

(908) 310-3397‬

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