Mediation is a tool that lends itself to these critical pandemic times. At a time when most of us are self-quarantining and social distancing—and when courts are open for emergencies only—mediation offers the best option for conflict resolution. Parties need immediate relief and whatever certainty they can get during these uncertain times. In our practice, we are finding parties mediating interim agreements and post-divorce agreements to accommodate the particularities of parenting and financial issues, presented by the coronavirus crisis. There is little we can control and so much unknown, so much fear for one’s own well-being and for that of our loved ones. But in mediation, parties do have agency to express values, risk thresholds, as well as how they wish to raise their children, and protect their financial futures to the extent possible.
As with all gatherings—from cocktail parties to seders to classes and doctor appointments—mediations are taking place on Zoom. There are, of course, drawbacks to not being together in one room. That said, we’ve found parties to be open, vulnerable and engaged in the process, even embracing all that an online platform has to offer. In particular, a physical distance from the conflict can chip away at some of the guardedness we experience in person. From the comfort and privacy of one’s own room, parties are less inhibited, less formal, all the while under excessive levels of anxiety due given the moment.
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