- How does online divorce mediation work?
- How long does online divorce mediation take?
- Are you a good candidate?
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, few people had online meetings. When infections soared, and most people were forced to stay home, everything changed. In December 2019, 10 million people participated in a Zoom video call. In April 2020, 300 million people did.
Online technology has changed everything about how we communicate, including how couples handle divorce mediation.
In standard divorce mediation, couples come together with a professional in a conference room to discuss divorce issues. In an online divorce mediation, couples use their computers, tablets, or phones to participate in the meeting instead.
How does online divorce mediation work?
Mediation keeps decisions in the hands of the couple, not judges and lawyers. Spouses are in control of decisions, but the mediator guides the process.
Planning starts the online divorce mediation. The professional tells both parties which online portal they'll use for the discussion. Some teams use Zoom, others use Google meeting tools, and others use custom platforms. If you must download a special application to participate, your mediator will tell you that far in advance, and you’ll have time to get set up appropriately.
When the mediation begins, these steps are typical:
- Log in: The mediator and both parties join the meeting. You do not have to be in the same room as anyone else participating in the mediation. You can choose a spot that's safe and comfortable for you.
- Introduction: The mediator explains how the meeting will work. Some mediators use a mute button, ensuring that only one person speaks at a time. If your mediator uses this rule, you'll know about it in advance.
- Positioning: Each couple explains what they want in response to a given issue. The mediator looks for similarities and differences.
- Negotiation: The mediator helps both parties come together. Sometimes, the mediator has side conversations with both parties to bring them closer to an agreement.
- Resolution: Mediators draw up written agreements both parties can sign and file with the courts.
Online divorce mediation works much like an in-person version. Technology is the main differentiator.
What are the benefits of online divorce mediation?
Plenty of people never thought they'd log into a meeting on a device like a computer or a tablet. But many professionals believe online meetings are the best things to come out of 2020.
Known online divorce mediation benefits include the following:
- More control: Many in-person meetings are dominated by one person who interrupts, argues, and yells. An online format allows the mediator to mute everyone who doesn't have the floor at the moment.
- Fewer triggers: Sitting across the table from your spouse isn't easy. An online format allows you to see the other on video, and some don't use a video option at all, allowing you to just hear a voice.
- Enhanced security: You might feel itchy and uncomfortable in a conference room. You can handle an online divorce mediation from anywhere, including your couch or bed. You can pick a spot that makes you feel safe, secure, and powerful.
- No travel required: Some couples move to new cities as soon as they split up. Online divorce mediation can happen from any city you call home, with no commute required. This saves time and money that would be spent on travel.
What are the disadvantages of online divorce mediation?
Online meetings are easier to schedule and conduct than in-person versions, but they do come with some drawbacks.
Known disadvantages of online divorce mediation include the following:
- More distractions: Doorbells, barking dogs, and demanding children can interrupt your call and the conversation at inopportune moments.
- Poor connectivity: If your home doesn't have a strong internet connection, it could be hard to hold a meeting without losing the signal and inadvertently dropping the call.
- More interruptions: You could experience a hitch or glitch in the technology during important parts of the conversation. It can be hard to regain your momentum after you lose it.
- Fewer opportunities to connect: If you can't sit in the same room with your partner, you can't always learn how to talk with your partner collaboratively. If you share children, you may need these skills down the road.
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How long does online divorce mediation take?
Most mediation meetings take at least a few hours. If you have plenty of things to discuss, and you struggle to collaborate with your partner in any meeting format, your meeting could take longer.
Some teams split the mediation process into multiple sessions. But if you can work quickly and collaboratively, this process could be over within a few hours.
How much does online mediation cost?
Mediation costs vary. If you're working with a skilled practitioner with lots of experience, you can expect to pay more than you would if you worked with another provider.
But you will spend less on online mediation than in-person versions. Your team won't need to rent a room, schedule travel, or otherwise tackle costs associated with an in-person conversation.
Are you a good candidate for online divorce mediation?
If you're comfortable with technology and worried about seeing your partner in person, an online divorce mediation process could be right for you. Your participation could help you end your marriage amicably in a reasonable amount of time.
But if you'd like to work on communication skills or you already collaborate with your partner easily, an in-person meeting could be a better option.
Watch: Your Top Divorce Mediation Questions, Answered by Erin Levine
ReferencesZoom Video Communications Daily Meeting Participants Worldwide from 2019 to 2020. (August 2022). Statista.
Mediation. State of Oregon Judicial Department.
Ten Reasons Why Virtual Meetings Are the Best Thing to Happen in 2020. (July 2020). Forbes.
The Disadvantages of Online Meetings. (December 2021). Chron.
Frequently Asked Questions. Office of Dispute Resolution, Colorado Springs.