“We’re all riding the same ocean, but different people are in different boats.” I had heard that quote a long time ago, but it came back to mind as I was setting up my camera for a remote session. With videoconferencing, we’re inviting people into our boats — our homes — and that is a real and genuine experience.
Remote mediation can be done quite successfully. In our firm, we view this as a time to be creating the agreements that will be presented to the court at a later time. Despite the current closures, we can draft an agreement and even have it notarized virtually. By doing so, we ensure that our clients’ divorces will be at the top of the court’s to-do pile when it reopens.
Considering the privacy concerns with Zoom and other platforms, I often switch to regular, old-fashioned conference calls with my clients after I meet them visually a few times. I’ve found that the visual element is not necessarily needed for every session once a rapport between us has been established.
In an ideal world, there would of course be no COVID — and I would be able to meet with my clients in person. In mediation, the clients are hearing a lot of information for the first time and I like to watch the way they interact with each other and respond to the information.
Before the pandemic I had a case that illustrated the importance of in-person meetings brilliantly. The couple traveled a lot and I had only met them on Zoom, but they came into my office once they were able to. What I did not expect, and was surprised to see, was the wife’s physical revulsion to being in the same room as her husband. She picked up her chair and placed it as far away from the husband as she could. This important detail was impossible to notice when the couple was meeting with me from two separate locations.
Remote mediation — and mediation in general — allows spouses to continue working on their divorces even when the courts are closed. It’s also the only game in town for the foreseeable future. But it’s important to note that this truncated, Zoom-based form of mediation doesn’t offer the full suite of benefits that come with in-person sessions.
To learn more about the different meeting options available, contact me.
Cheryl Stein, Esq.
The Law and Mediation Offices of Cheryl Stein
745 Fifth Avenue, Suite 500
New York, NY 10151
Phone: (646) 884-2324