16 April 2020
Mediation is a well-established and proven method for resolving many common legal disputes. Sitting around a table with a trained mediator to identify issues and reach agreement has been demonstrated as a very effective resolution technique for impacted parties in many areas of life. Divorce is one area where mediation has successfully been used for many years. Couples deciding to separate have found that the tricky issues – such as those around money and/or children – can often be resolved faster and more cheaply when a mediator is involved.
The mediation team at Haymarket Family Mediation, which is a part of Phillips Solicitors incorporating Brain Chase Coles, have extensive experience of assisting couples in just this way. And while most of their mediations over the last few decades have been conducted face-to-face at our Town Gate offices in Basingstoke, some have been delivered via video conferencing. In the past, the reason for this was often distance, for example where one partner has moved away from Hampshire, or where it was physically difficult for a client to access the office.
Now in these strange and testing timings, this experience of mediation by video conferencing is proving valuable to a wider group. While the Covid-19 virus has put restrictions on public meetings, it is understandable that individuals who have decided to separate do not want to put their plans on hold unless they have no choice. In fact, time working from home or being on furlough can give couples more time to focus on the separation process, and with it, a desire to resolve matters quickly which is best achieved through mediation.
This is certainly the experience of the team at Haymarket Family Mediation who now mediate remotely on a daily basis. Once the logistics of setting up a three-way video conference are confirmed, the mediation process proceeds in the usual way. Indeed, many clients appreciate not having to visit the mediation offices and being in the more relaxed atmosphere of talking from their own homes. Separated couples often feel more comfortable not sitting together around the same table but instead seeing and talking to each other over a video link. In this way it can often be easier to discuss and agree on major sticking points than meeting face-to-face.
Sheila Parkes, head of Haymarket Family Mediation, here at Phillips solicitors says: “Recent clients who had a virtual mediation with me, having done earlier ones in the office, actually found the remote option better for them, because the raw emotion was not felt so keenly by them both, as it had been when sitting in the same room. As a result considerable progress was made.”
So, while agreeing the terms of a civilised separation and/or divorce can be difficult, the current lockdown situation does not mean that the process needs to be put on hold. Family mediation remains an effective way to help couples through this process, saving time and money and we are here to help.
In fact, as working from home becomes more accepted and common, mediation by video conference may become the new norm rather than sitting together in an office around an actual table!
During these difficult times our Town Gate office in Basingstoke is temporarily closed to visitors unless by prior appointment and when meeting in person is essential. However, thanks to our lawyers being able to work remotely, Phillips and Haymarket Family Mediation remain fully open for business and can discuss mediation or any other legal matters by telephone and video conference.
This article is current at the date of publication set out above and is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.
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