The world is facing unprecedented times currently and it may seem impossible to effectively get a divorce from one’s partner during this time. Fortunately, the modern era we live in offers us access to technology that makes a divorce feasible even when there are gathering or opening restrictions in place. New York State Courts are currently closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic and are only taking cases through video calls if they are considered emergencies. With these facts in mind, online divorce mediation might be the most efficient method of separation.
Online mediation is very easy with services such as Zoom, Skype, and other video calling services where mediation meetings can be held without physically being present. Many of these applications also offer a “screen sharing” component that allows participants on the call to review documents in real-time along with their spouse and the mediator. If a party needs to meet with the mediator separately for a portion of the time, most video software has a private meeting room setting where hosts can split parties into different rooms to speak to them individually. Moreover, anyone whether an attorney, financial advisor, or another type of advisor, can easily enter or exit an existing call when needed allowing easy collaboration between all parties and their advisors. If anyone is experiencing technical difficulties with their audio or video, these applications have chat bars where people can mention this so that the conference does not continue without them.
For those worried about the privacy of these online services, Zoom has clarified that their software is in compliance with the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and encrypts their meetings which protect participants from having their data be intercepted. Their encryption algorithms ensure that the video and all documents shared through the call will not be accessible by others.
For those with children who do not want them to hear the mediation proceedings, it’s suggested that those parties find a private room to meet in. Keep in mind that the room will be then blocked off for what could be a significant amount of time so make sure the room you choose will not have a lot of traffic going through it. Mediation is generally not suitable if a case involves domestic violence whether in person or online as the safety of the victim cannot be guaranteed, especially since the mediator cannot be physically present. If mediation is chosen regardless, it’s recommended that the parties are in separate locations such as one being in the law office with their attorney or mediator.