How family mediation can work in a socially distanced world
9th June 2020 by Gemma Burden
Since the UK lockdown in March, Covid-19 has forced people to change the way they work and embrace virtual ways of working as an alternative way to communicate with others during the pandemic.
At Laceys Family Mediation, we too have embraced the online options for mediation.
For most separating couples, whilst many aspects of daily life have been put on hold, decision making over child arrangements and/or finances may have become even more pressing.
Many of you have already turned to us for help so we gained many weeks of experience of mediating online. However, for those who have doubts about how mediation can work remotely, we wanted to share what we can offer to enable you to move forward with the issues that arise for you:
Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) via Skype
- Initial meeting for you alone to discuss your options with one of our mediators and learn more about how mediation might help.
- Time: 30-40 minutes
Mediation Sessions via Skype
- EITHER a session with your ex partner and the mediator on a 3 way call so that everyone can see and hear each other
- OR the mediator can call you both separately if you feel uncomfortable seeing the other person.
- Time: 60-90 minutes.
Need support with technology? If you fear that you might struggle to download or connect with us on Skype, our mediation assistants can talk you through the process over the phone, or email you instructions. We have found that whilst some clients express concerns initially, they have found it relatively easy to follow the steps and get connected.
Flexible appointment times. If you are unable to allocate time in office hours to attend appointments, the joy of mediating online is it brings greater flexibility. We have had some clients booking appointments in their lunchbreak (sitting in their car for privacy) whilst others book later appointments when their younger children are in bed. Whilst our mediators have their own family commitments, they will help where they can and mediating online certainly increases the flexibility they can offer.
No distance barrier. When mediating in this new virtual world, it doesn’t matter where you or your ex partner are located. Distance no longer needs to be a barrier to trying mediation.
- If you have genuine difficulty accessing Skype, we can undertake some meetings by telephone.
Legal Aid Assessments
- We can assess you and your ex partner for legal aid to cover the cost of mediation, and it is worth bearing in mind that assessments are based upon your income in the last 30 days so, if you have found that your income had dropped during the pandemic, you may now qualify for legal aid. Those in receipt of Universal Credit for example, would normally qualify, subject to their capital also being assessed. Also, if your ex partner is eligible for legal aid but you are not, you would still get some parts of the service free yourself. If you would like to know more about legal aid please email us.
Face to Face sessions
- We are constantly keeping under review how we can start to offer mediation sessions in the office safely and within permitted guidelines. More to come on this soon, but if this is what you are waiting for, it is worthwhile making a referral now and having your separate MIAM appointment online with the option of then delaying your actual session with the other party until a time when we can offer sessions in person.
If you would like to make a referral, speak to one of our mediators about any of the above information, or find out more information about family mediation, please visit our the family mediation page on our website or email us and we will get back to you as soon as possible.