With the measures being taken to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus, our office holds its meetings remotely, i.e. by telephone or video call (an online conference call). Additionally, our mediation talks are done via apps such as Teams, Zoom, WhatsApp video calling, Facetime, Skype. We already used these mediums of communication in situations where (one of the) spouses was abroad. Now, with the new Corona-guidelines, we are doing this more often.
So, how does mediation work via video call?
1. Prior to the call, we send an e-mail each participant with practical information and to explain what they can expect from the conversation. A number of documents will be included, such as the mediation agreement, so that participants can read about the rules that apply during the mediation process. Other documents included will help participants to prepare beforehand, such as a checklist with information that will be needed at a later point in time. If there are children, you will also find a model parenting plan. Furthermore, we will set up an online file so that all parties can view the relevant documentation.
2. Before any substantive discussion of the case, we ask all participants to sign the mediation agreement and send a copy to the mediator by email. From that moment on, the confidentiality clause applies to all parties. We also need to verify your identity and will discuss with you a way to do so that is most convenient, taking into account all applicable privacy restrictions. You can, for example, show us your ID at the start of the video call, or e-mail a copy prior to the call, whereby we request that your social-security number (BSN) is made illegible. We will not store your ID anywhere online and will remove the copy from our mailbox.
3. A clear agenda will be drawn up before the meeting. This will include the time and date of the call, the medium to be used (e.g. FaceTime, Teams), as well as the points to be discussed such as a parental plan, the financial settlement of the divorce, etc.
4. Also rules for during the call will be made clear. For example, we agree to make use of headphones where possible to improve sound quality. Another request – with regards to confidentiality – is that nobody else is present in the room from which participants are calling. Also, and especially for contact by telephone, it is important to not to talk over each other, but to allow everyone their turn to speak.
5. Multiple calls are often required. In between calls, the necessary information can be exchanged by e-mail or, if preferred, the mediator can call with each party individually. With face-to-face mediation, such individual contact is avoided as much as possible, however with online mediation it is sometimes advisable to do so.
6. Once we have managed to reach an agreement in all areas, the mediator will draw up the divorce agreement and parental plan, just as we would with standard mediation. We will need an original signature from you, an electronic/digital signature. We will either send you a hard copy of the covenant and parenting plan, or you can print the documents yourself. Once the documents have been signed by all participants, they must be sent to the mediator.
After this, everything will be settled as we would normally to finalise mediation.
Questions? Call us or send an e-mail!