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Insights // 16 November 2020

Remote Family Mediation – a Useful Tool for Families During Lockdown and Beyond

Associate solicitor Paul Linsell, in our leading Family Law team, explains how mediation can benefit couples seeking to divorce, and how the process is handled remotely.

Why mediation?

For many families experiencing a relationship breakdown, mediation can offer an opportunity to adopt a solutions focussed approach to untangling the issues they face. It can address a wide range of issues, including:

  • Dealing with the arrangements for the children or other issues concerning children
  • Sorting out financial arrangements
  • Working through any formalities, such as a divorce process
  • Assisting in improving communications
  • Addressing practical arrangements

The recent report, “What about me?” by The Family Solutions Group, recommends mediation as part of an overall package of services, alongside legal support and counselling, that should be regarded as best practice for separating couples. A solicitor-mediator can provide legal information to help assist both parties, as well as signposting to other resources that may be helpful.

Many of the advantages cited for mediation include that it is often cheaper, quicker, less stressful and more conducive to successful long-term outcomes than many alternative processes.

What is remote mediation?

Traditionally, family mediation would involve all parties meeting in the same place, often in the same room. However, with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to that approach, there has been a rise in the use of remote mediation.

Remote mediation is conducted via video call, using platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The general principles are the same as with face-to-face mediation, save that the parties and the mediator are not physically in the same room. The mediator will use the same skills and techniques to assist in navigating the various issues.

What are the benefits of remote mediation?

As well as the general benefits of mediation, remote mediation additionally offers the following advantages:

  • It provides a fully socially distanced process to assist in resolving all issues
  • It can often by more convenient with no additional travel time or costs
  • It is commonly easier to find mutually available dates, as it is easier to fit in around busy schedules
  • Feedback from clients suggests that it offers greater comfort, as the clients have a choice as to where they are when engaging in sessions and many suggest that this results in it being less intimidating than other processes
  • Often the process can be more flexible, as it is quicker and easier to share information in real time and to use techniques such as breaking out into separate virtual rooms

 Is remote mediation right for me?

Remote mediation offers an attractive option for many. However, there can still benefits to face-to-face mediation or circumstances where remote mediation may not be suitable. If you would like to discuss these processes or any other options that might be suitable then please get in touch with a member of our specialist Family Law team.

For further information or legal advice, please contact law@blandy.co.uk or call 0118 951 6800. 

This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.

Paul Linsell

Paul Linsell

Associate Solicitor, Family Law

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