Mediation in the Age of Coronavirus


Mediation Conferences are one of the key procedural elements of a family law case. They are also the stage during which the vast majority of family law cases settle. A typical mediation conference involves three rooms: one room for each side, and a third room for the mediator to breakout with the attorneys, if necessary. Mediation conferences are also confidential, and third-parties are absolutely prohibited from being part of the process, or learning about what was said or offered during the conference. If an agreement is reached, it is signed before the conference ends.

Now that we have found ourselves in a situation where everything is being done virtually, there is natural concern over how that will impact the ability to move forward with the mediation process. However, Coronavirus has not caused any delay in mediation conferences, and mediators have done a phenomenal job of maintain the same “feel” and efficiency in their virtual mediation conferences as we previously experienced in our in-person mediation conferences.

Most mediation conferences are currently being conducted through the Zoom platform, with each party and their lawyer immediately being placed in their respective “room” upon arrival into the conference. The mediator is able to move between the rooms just as she is during an in-person mediation. Clients are also able to confer with their attorneys, privately, in their rooms. There is no direct contact between the parties, and therefore no unnecessary conflict. Documents are able to be reviewed and signed through DocuSign prior to the conclusion of the conference.

The challenge to virtual mediation conferences is ensuring the confidentiality of the process. Since the majority of people are attending these conferences from their homes, there are often other persons present, which may include the marital children. However, it is crucial to find a room where you can attend the mediation conference without any disruption, and without anyone overhearing. This maintains the integrity of the mediation process, and allows productive negotiation.

If you have questions about navigating a divorce or family law matter in Florida that involves mediation, Robert Sparks Attorneys is available to help. Call or contact us online to speak with a lawyer.