Mediation in the time of Corona- resolving things remotely
At a time when you feel that normal life is on hold, yet your personal circumstances are in freefall, mediation can allow you and your ex-partner or spouse to take positive steps towards tackling the differences between you. You do not need to feel “locked in” and stuck. Mediation can help achieve an outcome that best suits your particular circumstances. You can do that now, remotely, using telephone or video conferencing like Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp or Teams and don’t have to wait while the courts are suspended for most matters.
Following the ending of a relationship, the issues that most people want to talk about at mediation are deciding on the best arrangements for children and resolving financial matters. Both of these issues can be very difficult to tackle successfully, but most people would rather that they retained control of those decisions, rather than handing control over to a judge or sheriff. It’s not easy, at the best of times, to discuss difficult personal issues with an ex-partner or spouse. Against the background of a pandemic, the personal issues between you may seem insurmountable.
You may both still be living in the same accommodation and have come to the realisation that your relationship is over, but neither of you is able to make arrangements for separate accommodation yet, you are just not able to communicate without fighting, and you can feel things becoming more and more bleak. Or you might be living in two separate households but, because of current government guidance, are unable to meet to discuss matters. You may have children and, although government guidance does provide that children under 18 can move between two households, because a member of one of the households has an underlying health condition, it’s not possible for the children to move between the two homes. The parent with care of the children during lockdown may be feeling overburdened physically and emotionally exhausted. At the same time, the parent having no direct contact with the children may be feeling bereft, anxious and even resentful of the other parent. Children may be upset and fractious because they are not having contact with both parents, as well as missing their usual routine of attending school and socialising with friends.
Even against these potentially, highly fraught backgrounds, mediation can play a role in allowing you to communicate effectively and help achieve resolution.
Through mediation it is possible to prioritise what needs to be tackled now, in order to ease immediate tensions, and then separate out what are longer term goals. It is possible to explore options and identify what might work best for your particular circumstances. Mediation can help you identify the positive steps that can maintain stability for children and ease financial tensions. Being able to establish ground rules about current living arrangements may be the first step towards a platform for achieving a way for you both to live separately successfully.
Although mediation usually takes place by way of face to face meetings, mediation can also take place successfully by telephone or by video call such as Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, or Teams.
Just as in face to face sessions, it is essential that the mediator takes account of the importance of timing: making sure sessions fit in with people’s lives so far as possible. It is important to identify the times to avoid such as mealtimes and bedtimes, as well as identifying better times such as when children are engaged in an activity or are asleep in bed. In many ways remote mediation allows greater flexibility as participants can more easily engage in late evening or early morning sessions. Remote mediation allows sessions to take place in your own home without the time and expense involved in travelling to an office or mediation centre. For remote mediation to have the best chance of success you need to be ready to start on time, to be in a quiet location and to make sure that any documents that you may wish to refer to have been shared in advance. It’s important to have privacy and essential that sessions do not become overly long. At the conclusion, future actions need to be clearly identified. In certain situations, it might be helpful for a summary of what has been covered to be provided. Above all, a skilled mediator will ensure that both parties have an opportunity to speak and be listened to. With remote mediation, this can happen just as easily, whether you are in distant locations or in the same room.