Prior to the lockdown, only a small proportion of family mediators offered family mediation via Zoom or other video conferencing platforms. As a result of the lockdown many more family mediators, including our Head of Family Law, Joanna Toloczko are now offering the service, given that many couples wish to progress the arrangements for their separation and divorce but face to face meetings are not possible. But how does remote family mediation work?
Joanna’s favoured platform is Zoom. In order to take part in a mediation conducted via Zoom, all a client has to do is download the Zoom app on their device. Joanna will schedule the meeting and send the client a link. The client then clicks on the link at the beginning of the meeting and it is as simple as that.
Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings are conducted individually and the only form required is the Family Mediation Preliminary Information form. Joanna will arrange for you to complete and submit the form prior to the MIAM.
As far as the joint sessions are concerned, if it is a financial mediation, there can often be a large number of documents to be shared. Joanna will manage this by sharing her screen with the clients so that Joanna and the clients all see the same document at the same time, whilst remaining “present” in the meeting. Zoom has a whiteboard function which can be used in place of the flipchart which would be used in a face to face mediation.
At the beginning of joint mediation sessions, Joanna will activate the waiting room function so that both clients enter the meeting at the same time and there cannot be any perception that either of them has been having a cosy chat with Joanna prior to the meeting.
Joanna will ask each party to confirm that they have no one else in the room with them; they cannot be overheard (particularly by children) and they are not recording the session.
Zoom also has a mute function which Joanna is able to use should one party become abusive or aggressive. There is also a breakout room function in case Joanna needs to speak to the clients separately.
Joanna has found that the remote sessions work just as effectively as the face to face sessions. Indeed, there are some advantages to the remote sessions as follows:-
No-one has to travel which eradicates disagreement regarding the venue for the mediation and makes it easier to arrange appointments which are convenient for all three participants.
The parties are not required to meet face to face so a layer of emotion is removed from the dynamics.
People tend to be more respectful of taking it in turns to speak rather than speaking over each other.
If you would like further information regarding remote family mediation please contact Joanna on her direct line 0203 861 5155 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meaby&Co is authorised and regulated by the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA Number 447880) and registered in England and Wales with registered number OC322672 at 2 Camberwell Church St, London, SE5 8QY.