With no definitive date for the courts to re-open, many lawyers and individuals are concerned about waiting months for resolutions to their divorce, custody and other family law matters in light of COVID-19.
Over the last few years, mediation has grown in popularity because it is both a cost-effective alternative and focuses more on civility and good-faith negotiations when compared to litigation. Now mediation has moved online thanks to the many video platforms available.
Fischel Kahn attorneys David Inlander, Suzanne Glade and Julie Brett have managed virtual mediations almost daily, either as a mediator or representing clients, since the pandemic began.
Their clients have found virtual mediation to be an effective tool for a number of reasons.
Security and confidentiality above all else
Mediation has always been the best path for individuals who do not want their personal and financial details put into the record in open court. But even the most tech-savvy participants may be concerned about privacy in a virtual mediation.
Mediators take a number of measures to protect security and confidentiality above all else. To keep the remote process secure, they implement password-protected meetings and follow additional electronic security procedures, such as authorizing each user before admitting him or her into the virtual conference room.
To ensure confidentiality and privacy, they create waiting and breakout rooms which limit access among particular participants. These meetings-within-a-meeting allow for a confidential attorney-client conversation during virtual mediations and are similar to walking down the hall to another room during an in-person meeting.
Efficiecy is top of mind
One of the main benefits of mediation is that it can be done on the couple’s schedule – not the court’s. Virtual mediations do this one better by sparing the individuals a trip to their attorney’s office. Because of this, participants are able to give exceptional focus to the time together despite the inevitable in-home interruptions.
The ability to schedule mediations quickly can also help address the immediate financial implications of the pandemic, such as a layoff or furlough preventing a parent from paying child support. Decisions reached through mediation are memorialized in an order or judgment and then entered by the court remotely.
This virtual venue also allows any future sessions to be scheduled quickly, which is a plus when couples are anxious to reach a resolution.
A better conversation
In the midst of a global health and financial crisis, many “what if” scenarios such as job loss, sickness and loss of child-care providers are front and center. During this unprecedented time, individuals are looking for certainty and resolutions, making mediation a welcome port in a storm. Instead of avoiding uncomfortable topics, more couples are focusing on what is important and are working together to answer tough questions.
Additionally, with many parents now at home 24/7, there is a renewed focus on what is best for the children.
David Inlander focuses on complex matrimonial mediation, collaborative and cooperative resolution processes for sophisticated clients and is one of Chicago’s most sought-after mediators, virtual or otherwise. firstname.lastname@example.org