Mediation in Lockdown
08 May 2020
The traditional model of mediation where a Mediator meets with both parties in the same room to discuss issues has been challenged by the ongoing lockdown and in the future social distancing may continue to limit a return to the mediation room.
However, Mediators are conscious that lockdown may well present new stresses in any family breakdown and having the option to discuss these issues may well be extremely helpful to people.
As a result, Mediators are now able to offer mediation services remotely using Skype, Zoom or other technologies and the Family Mediation Council has updated their rules and guidance to provide Mediators with more help in making sure that this new way of practicing is still fair, independent and safe for all concerned.
So how does it work?
We are all having to get more used to remote meetings and communication and mediation is no different. The Mediator will have an initial ‘meeting’ with each person and can discuss the availability of Skype, Zoom and make sure that the connection speed is sufficient and check each person’s set up- is it quiet, safe and private? Is there a better time to have a mediation meeting depending on other people and children in the house?
The Mediator will consider if the case is suitable for mediation and make sure that both parties understand the new rules around technology at the outset. Mediation remains a voluntary process and no-one should feel compelled to attend either in person or remotely.
If all parties wish to mediate remotely, and the Mediator feels it is suitable having explained the process, the Mediator will set up the meeting and invite the parties to attend. The mediator will continue to monitor the discussion and as with a face to face mediation can provide comfort breaks, break out rooms and sharing of information and documents on screen or by email.
The general message is the Mediation is still a route very much open to people experiencing family breakdown and that more specific information an be obtained from local Mediators. Every mediation is unique and the Mediator will be able to provide suggestions on how each individual situation could be dealt with.