Its Sunday morning and I’m trailing through my news App and catch the headline “As I ended my marriage, lockdown’s trapped me, the kids and a heartbroken husband together” I was intrigued and needed to understand more about this, wondering what had made “Natalie” feel trapped knowing there are always choices to be had in life and Lockdown doesn’t need to change this.
I went on to read “I smile on Zoom and joke with friends on WhatsApp, but they don’t know that I cry quietly in the shower every day. I’m not crying for the breakdown of my marriage. I did that a long time ago. I cry because I’m trapped and I’ve lost all the progress I’ve made. And I cry because I know that soon enough I will be hurting my family all over again.”
As a family lawyer and Mediator I felt really saddened by this statement. I understand and appreciate during extenuating circumstances people may choose to stay in relationships for numerous reasons but to feel trapped on the basis she did not feel our justice system would facilitate an ongoing separation process during lockdown was just wrong!
We are living in “unprecedented times” we have all found our own ways to manage this significant change to our lives but for me and my profession as a whole its business as usual. We are just working a little differently but continue to be here to help and to make sure choices remain.
Technology has been our saviour during the challenges presented to us socially during lockdown. We have all resorted to family and friends Quiz nights, FaceTime, WhatsApp videos and Zoom especially seems to have completely “Zoomed” to celebrity status overnight. Most of us nowadays have found a way to keep in touch with our family and friends through some form of video conferencing. Well Family Mediators are no different.
Mediators are now offering what we call Online Mediation. In fact I’ve practised Online Mediation for many years but ordinarily this was more the exception to the rule in that we would only normally offer this facility when face to face meets was a physical impossibility. Currently Online Mediation is the only way we can practice but that’s absolutely fine. The process remains the same. Progress continues to be made and my experience and feed back from those who have experienced both traditional face to face mediation and online mediation actually prefer online mediation.
So what exactly is Online Mediation?
Well, it is exactly what is says on the label. Mediation Online. The Mediation process remains exactly the same. However instead of face to face meets round a table which people often find emotionally draining, you remain in the comfort of your own home or where ever you elect to be and we mediate by way of a video conference platform such as Zoom, WhatsApp, FaceTime goto meeting or whatever works for you. My preferred option is Zoom given this gives me a number of additional tools I can use to manage the process and is totally secure but ultimately if this doesn’t work for you we will always find a way to make sure you feel comfortable with the way in which we proceed.
Online mediation also cuts out travel time and therefore creates so much more flexibility for scheduling appointments such as around lunchtimes or before or after you start work.
There are of course pro’s and con’s to everything and during lockdown we may have young children who need to be looked after and you’re on your own or older children with curious ears. Your internet connection may not be great or we need to ensure new partners are not in the room during meets. However we simply wont proceed with any joint meets until we know everyone is comfortable and confident to do so.
However if you relate to Natalie
“I can’t talk to my friends or family about it as Zoom chats are now full of quizzes and cocktail hours – with my ex close by to wave like we’re a happy family. I have a feeling most of my loved ones believe that if I can live easily without conflict in lockdown with my ex – why on earth are we splitting up? I suspect my ex will say the same thing at the end of this and the whole painful cycle of explanations and gut-wrenching conversations will start all over again. I can’t even allow myself to think about the damage that this is doing to our kids who have happily forgotten about the crisis of a divorce, while they deal with enormity of a country in lockdown.”
Then reach out and ask for help. It doesn’t have to be like that. We will offer you an initial consultation to explore the options available to you and whether or not mediation is appropriate for you. If at the end of that meet you decide not to do anything then that is your choice but its an informed one.
Our Locations: We facilitate Mediation services in the following locations: