Flexibility, Time, Comfort & Inclusivity: Online Family Mediation is a Great Option
(And why offering after-hours family mediation services is so important to us at Redwood Mediation & Law)
For those of us born in the 1900’s rather than the 2000’s, keeping up with technology can seem daunting. Still, because our world has been impacted so profoundly by Covid-19, it seems that nearly everywhere we turn, we are asked to interact virtually rather than in person. Doctor appointments, P.T.A. meetings, and even required job training are now often conducted online.
Recently, the world has made a sharp turn toward online business, and more and more we find ourselves making the courageous choice to return to our desktops, laptops and phones, for major life interactions in the unfamiliar space of a new app or platform. While you are considering online family mediation, you may be thinking, “This would be so much better if we just went through the mediation process in person!” This sentiment is understandable. In addition to adjusting to changes in your family life and finances, mediation may be a new experience as well. You are not alone if it is—for most of the clients we work with, this is their first time through the family mediation process too. The good news is that the option of online mediation has many wonderful advantages over in-person mediation. We will take a minute here to ponder over some of them.
To start: comfort. We find that our online family mediation clients tend to get settled into the process a bit easier because they are in familiar surroundings. You may have the option of support from a friend or partner, or even a pet during the mediation session. Particularly where there may be some significant tension between the parties, not having to interact in person with another party can be a huge relief as well.
The breaks are better too. In the mediation process, we will spend a great deal of time working with the parties individually as we all learn and discover the optimal solution for a healthy and cooperative outcome. While your mediator is working with the other party, you will have some down time. If you are planning to attend an in-person mediation session, we recommend highly that you bring something to do during these periods. At Redwood Mediation, we have created a homey and comfortable environment in which you can relax during in-person mediation; however, many of our clients have commented on how much they appreciated being at home during online family mediation. Online mediation allows you lots of flexibility and privacy to use those breaks as you need to…discuss, take care of dinner, pets and children, practice yoga, or just relax and watch a favorite show. When it is your turn to work, you can be more refreshed and ready to focus. When everyone participating is at home, everyone has a home-field advantage. In our experience, clients who are more at ease are better able to embrace the merits of a cooperative solution, and focus on getting what they really want and need to move on with the next phase of life.
With online family mediation, you’ll get out of the time and expense of travel. Forget jumping in the truck, the weather, the cost of gas. Just sit down in a comfortable chair and log in. A minute or so is all it takes to get to a mediation session. Lack of time and money pressure are significant issues for many of our family mediation clients. With online family mediation, not only will you forgo the expense of travel to the sessions, but you will save time as well.
Flexibility. Few of us plan for and make decisions about every aspect of our financial and family lives in one day. And yet, when it comes to sorting out a family transition, you may be asked to do just that. It can be overwhelming. A good mediator can pick up on signs that one or both parties is in cognitive overload. We can divvy up the challenge by postponing certain issues to another online family mediation session. Forgoing travel means more flexibility. Because we do not have to factor in the time and expense of travel, it is easier to be very flexible about scheduling more than one session in order to achieve the best possible result.
While we are on the subject of flexibility, we will mention that at Redwood Mediation, one of the best aspects of meeting online has been the opportunity to offer online family mediation services to parties outside of normal business hours. For many of our clients, this is a huge factor—mainly because they can avoid taking time off work to complete the family mediation process. There are few periods in life when one needs to preserve income and vacation days more than when going through a time of family transition. For this reason, we are dedicated to helping clients in a way that works for them—by scheduling and structuring family mediation sessions to work with your life. Whether we meet in person or online, we want you to have the best possible Redwood Mediation experience.
If you have concerns about navigating family mediation online, we can talk you though it. Some practical concerns may include finding reliable WiFi, the platform used (i.e., Zoom, Google Meet etc.), or camera time. Ask questions to put your mind at ease. At Redwood Mediation, we have found that a short phone call ahead of the online family mediation session is enough to trouble-shoot, make adjustments, walk through the technical steps, and help our clients overcome any anxiety about using the online platform.
If you are interested in reading another mediator’s take on online mediation in a more general practice, you might enjoy article by this article by Eric Galton. The Remarkable (And Often Very Surprising) Benefits of Virtual Mediation (mediate.com)
One final note about online family mediation: Inclusivity. Online family mediation makes possible some ready accessibility tools such as online captioning as well as options to increase or decrease light and volume. Whether in person or online, at Redwood Mediation, inclusivity for all is important to us. If there are accessibility measures that we can implement to improve your experience and access to our services, please let us know.
When it comes to family mediation services, online family mediation is a great option.