I’ve had several potential clients ask me if it’s possible to move forward with divorce mediation with all the restrictions that we are currently experiencing during COVID-19. The answer is simple and direct – yes, we absolutely can using online divorce mediation. Undeniably, we are living in unprecedented times and there are changes that need to be made so that everyone is safe. However, there are still many people who need to move forward with getting divorced for a variety of reasons so we have developed ways to adapt our process (Divorce Mediation Process) so that we can support these clients.
In fact, divorce mediators are well-equipped to help people during chaotic times. As mediators, we are used to helping our clients move from highly emotional situations that are full of uncertainty and tension to a place of cooperation and stability (Client Comments) by utilizing a variety of tools and techniques – STRUCTURE to provide a well-defined path forward & help clients feel comfortable with the process, PROACTIVITY so that we help our clients address issues before they become problematic, BALANCE so that our clients know they can trust both the process and the feedback we provide, UNDERSTANDING/EMPATHY so that we have a deep understanding our clients’ concerns and let them know that we care about what they’re going through.
Another one of the hallmarks of mediation is ADAPTABILITY. It’s always important for us to adapt the mediation process as needed (Benefits of Mediation), but it is becoming even more important in light of the current pandemic. Below are practical ways that we have adapted our process to meet the needs of our clients
- Videoconferencing – One of the most specific ways we are modifying the divorce mediation process is how we meet with our clients. The options include doing videoconferencing sessions as well as handling more specific questions and issues via phone (just as we often did before COVID-19). We have been doing online divorce mediation video sessions with our existing clients for several weeks now to strike the right balance between allowing clients to continue to move forward with resolving their issues while also keeping everyone safe and it’s been working well.
- Abbreviated Sessions – Another option we’re using is to provide our clients with the option of shorter, more focused sessions. For example, clients that are working at home or have children home from school may not have time for a typical two-hour joint session. In these cases, we are doing shorter sessions, sometimes 30 minutes and sometimes 1 hour, with a very specific agenda in order to accommodate our clients.
- Relevant Techniques and Tools – during these uncertain times, clients need very practical, applicable techniques and tools even more than normal. We always customize each individual divorce mediation process to the client’s specific needs so now we are simply including additional concerns and issues that are coming up specific to the stay-at-home orders. Whether it’s healthy ways to interact with their soon-to-be-ex, specific communication ground rules or ways to focus on their children’s well-being, clients under stress are looking for tangible, concrete tools they can use today, tomorrow & throughout the remainder of this crisis – and this is what we provide!
- Being a Good Host – It’s incumbent on us as divorce mediators to help our clients feel comfortable with these new ways of communicating by normalizing them and being a good host. For example, we check in with our clients at the beginning of the session to make sure that they’re comfortable, that the audio and video connections are good and let them know that it’s not a problem if they need to get up to go to the bathroom, get a drink or anything else that might happen during a session (if midway through the session they need a minute to get the kids started on a new activity, we’re totally fine with this). Whether it’s in our office or via online divorce mediation, part of being a good mediator is making people as comfortable as possible.
We understand that some people want to hold off on starting the divorce mediation process based on everything else that’s going on in the world. We also know that there are people that need to start moving forward with this process before life gets back to normal. And for those folks, we offer online divorce mediation (divorce mediation via videoconferencing) to help them start moving forward as soon as possible.