People do not have to live in the same city, county, state or even country to mediate their dispute. One or both parties can be somewhere outside of the mediator’s office during the mediation. First, parties can mediate over the telephone. One party may be in the mediator’s office, or both parties may be on the phone with the mediator.
Second, parties can use videoconferencing like Gotomeeting or Skype to mediate their disputes. There are now a number of computer programs that allow parties to sign in and actually see the other people on the video call. Videoconferencing has the benefit of allowing everyone to see the other participants’ body language. Seeing the other participants may prevent misunderstandings and/or encourage empathy. People are less likely to say hurtful things or take unreasonable positions when looking at the other party.
There will be some logistical issues to address with a remote mediation. Because at least one party will not be in the same room as the mediator, the distant party or parties will have to sign the Confidentiality Agreement and Agreement to Mediate in advance. Further, if the parties reach an agreement that needs to be signed, the distant party or parties will have to receive, sign and return the written agreement through fax, email or mail. If the mediator is also drafting court documents for the parties, such as stipulated motions or divorce petitions or decrees, the distant party or parties will also have to send these documents back through the mail, if original signatures are necessary. However, these minor inconveniences do not negate the many benefits of resolving a case remotely.
Even if people live in the same area, they may choose video or telephonic mediation to avoid being in the same building with the other person (where there is great animosity or an Order of Protection). Other people may choose these modes of remote mediation simply to be able to fit a mediation into a lunch hour or some other time limitation.
Alona M. Gottfried is a mediator and attorney in Arizona. If you have questions about mediation, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or email@example.com. This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be legal advice. See a legal professional before making legal decisions.
Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC
8160 E. Butherus Dr., Suite #7
Scottsdale, AZ 85260