Divorce Mediation Through Skype, Video or Conference Call: Is it an Option?

Skypepic-300x200For residents of Long Island and New York, I have long offered divorce mediation as an alternative form of dispute resolution. While I do litigation and traditional settlement negotiations for divorce too, divorce mediation is an opportunity for divorcing or separating parties to come together and negotiate the terms that dictate the end of their relationship. Using divorce mediators, couples can keep the courts largely out of their divorce process, while maintaining more control over what happens next. What’s more, for many people, mediation can be a lot less expensive than paying for litigation.

In an ideal situation, separating and divorcing couples would get the most out of their mediation session by both coming into the same room to talk. I try to offer my clients a warm and welcoming environment where they can discuss their issues with my help as a divorce mediator. For those who need additional guidance, I even offer the option for mediation by caucus, and preliminary planning sessions too (if both parties are willing). However, when people move apart after a separation, or need to travel frequently for business, finding time to get together in the same mediation environment isn’t always possible.

Couples can’t always stop their lives to take part in mediation, but that doesn’t mean that decisions don’t need to be made about everything from child support to maintenance. Divorce mediation through video conferencing tools like Skype, conference calls, or other tools could be an answer to a number of complicated situations.

Engaging in Remote Mediation

Mediators are often highly diverse and flexible people. I don’t just act as a divorce mediator for instance, I also offer a combination of litigation and collaborative law options too (for people that are not using me as their mediator). The option for remote mediation is just another way that mediators can help couples from all backgrounds to embrace the benefits of mediation.

Provided that the connection for a video conference is strong enough to allow for consistent and reliable conversation, remote mediation can be just like sitting in a room with your partner and mediator. The same in-depth discussions can be held, and decisions can be made, without both parties necessarily being present. This is very useful when the mediation process can sometimes end up taking months, even in an environment when both parties are available for regular sessions. If one spouse is regularly overseas, timing sessions around their availability could make it impossible to bring the divorce to a close quickly. What’s more, remote mediation by Skype can also be very useful if a split has been traumatic, and the two parties don’t feel comfortable in the same room.

Mediation through Skype is a flexible way for couples to discuss and negotiate their issues for divorce in a setting that works for everyone. It’s more immediate and intimate than email and phone calls, and it’s also capable of giving mediation parties the option to feel as though they’re in the same room as their partner, while still being able to walk off camera and take a break if necessary. In mediation over Skype, caucusing sessions may even be less necessary, as it’s possible for one party to pause a video call if they need a few minutes to calm down after a heated discussion.

Solving Problems Via Video Conference

Ultimately, the same reputation-building and trust-building cues like facial expressions and body language can still appear in a video conferencing session, just like they do in real life. One study from the International Journal of Online dispute resolution found that the non-verbal communication in a video call is enough to make remote meetings work a lot better. The conscious and unconscious cues that happen when people are face-to-face can even help mediators to get into a deeper part of the divorce conversation, saying something like “You frowned there, is there something you want to say?”

Video calling is the closest way for a mediator and his clients to replicate the natural in-room environment of a mediation office, when one or both parties aren’t available. Mediators like myself strive to provide their clients with the widest selection of options possible to help them find the mediation strategy that’s right for them. Now that Skype and other tools exist to make video conferencing simple, almost anyone can take part in this kind of conversation, as long as they have a smartphone, or a computer and an internet connection. However, certain guidelines can improve the quality of any video conversation. For instance, participants should:

  • Make sure they have a strong connection before the call
  • Use headphones and find a quiet place to keep the conversation private
  • Avoid constantly pausing the video stream
  • Get the approval of their partner to use video conferencing technology
  • Learn how to use the tech before the mediation begins

If you want to learn more about divorce mediation, and the various options available to you, reach out to my office today at (516) 333-6555. We offer free initial consultations of up to a half hour at no charge. Couples that wish to use me as their divorce mediator would need to do their initial consultation together. I could consult with and be a review attorney for an individual, however, that uses another mediator, if we talk alone.

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