The Benefits and Risks of Online Mediation

Whether your conflict is domestic or international, online mediation is often a better fit for your situation than traditional face-to-face meetings. This process eliminates the need to meet in person and reduces or avoids some of the costs associated with the typical mediation process, such as travel, facility and parking costs, and lunches.

The virtual format allows the mediator and disputants to focus more on the content of the dispute and less on the mechanics of the meeting. This allows the participants to be more engaged and productive. In addition, the ability to use a screen that can mute or separate people allows the mediator to manage conversations that become disruptive or combative. Finally, the ability to upload documents and other materials can eliminate the need for a physical meeting.

While there are benefits to online mediation, the technology does present some unique challenges for both parties and mediators. Depending on the quality of your Internet connection, you may experience lag or other technical issues. However, the vast majority of the time these issues are resolved quickly. Many mediators recommend that you contact the mediator before your session to discuss any technical concerns and test your connection. It is also a good idea to choose a quiet room for the session, free from distractions.

Another concern is that talking primarily through e-mail can lead to misunderstandings and lack the warmth of in-person communication. Disputants who engage in long-distance talks miss out on cues such as facial expressions and body language, which can be important for creating trust and rapport. Moreover, e-mail talks are more likely to be interrupted by distractions such as a ringing phone or an unexpected visitor. Finally, e-mail talks are more prone to “flaming” when a disputant feels angry or misunderstood.

In contrast, online mediation provides participants and mediators with a private space to talk in a way that is protected from unwanted distractions. Using a screen that can be muted or separated, the mediator can limit what appears on each participant’s screen and avoid distractions like a phone call or other participants showing up unannounced. This is particularly helpful in highly emotional, stressful or threatening disputes.

As online mediation continues to expand globally, it is important for people to be aware of the potential risks and concerns. Nevertheless, most mediators and services provide training for their clients before their first meeting to help them navigate the technology. If you are interested in online divorce mediation, Kubik Mediation Group is happy to discuss your options with you. We can even schedule a free phone consultation for you and your spouse or partner to determine if this is the best approach for your case. We will work with you to overcome any technological hurdles that might arise. We can hold your online mediation sessions in our office in the U.S. or, if you prefer, from your home. Contact us today to get started!

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