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By Austin Chessell, the convenor of the ASM Plus family team

At ASM Plus we offered our mediation and other services online before COVID-19 happened but currently we are mediating online with all our mediation clients.

The positives of mediating online

During COVID-19 this is the safest way to ensure clients can mediate by avoiding face to face contact.

If there has been domestic abuse in the relationship clients may not want to arrive and leave the building together. By having the meeting online this helps to solve the problem of arriving or leaving the building at the same time.

If clients do not want to be in the same room to mediate like a shuttle mediation, we can use breakout rooms for the meeting on Zoom or Skype.

The clients can be based anywhere in the UK or abroad and do not need to travel to our office.

The negatives of mediating online:

The sessions need to be very frontloaded to ensure that clients have completed and returned mediation documents in advance of the session.

We offer test video calls before the meeting but sometimes technology can fail.

It can sometimes feel draining to look at a screen for 90 minutes in a joint session so short breaks are encouraged and I aim to have breaks in between mediating meetings to be fresh for the next session.

There have been some security concerns about some online video platforms.

If the battery runs out of a video device during the meeting and there is no charger nearby the session ends so we encourage devices to be fully charged at the start of the meeting.

At ASM Plus we are comfortable to mediate online with your preferred platform. Our experience is that the positives greatly outweigh the negatives and our mediations generally proceed smoothly.

It will be interesting to see if post COVID-19 it becomes normal practice to mediate online or if clients prefer to meet face to face when they are making very important decisions regarding their separation.

As well as being the convener of the ASM Plus family team Austin Chessell is an Accredited Family Mediator and Child Mediator

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