My name is Sheryl-Anne Sastow. I am a New York attorney/mediator. I handle both Divorce Mediations as well as Elder Care Decision Mediations.
Whether it is a Divorce, Pre-Nuptial, Post Divorce issue, or Elder Care Decision Conflict with your siblings, you do not have to feel like you’re stuck without any recourse during this COVID-19 period.
While many businesses are currently facing severe challenges, fortunately, I am still able to help my clients resolve their issues. I continue to do remote, virtual, or online mediations. In fact, I have been doing online mediations for many years, first with Skype and now with Zoom! The only difference for my practice right now, is that ALL my Mediations are online, instead of being able to give my clients the choice of online or in-person. I am happy to report that my clients are actually emailing me letting me know how surprised that they feel so comfortable and advise that if they are going to opt to continue mediating online.
More comfortable with online mediation?
This may seem surprising, but I have seen the benefits of online mediations for years. When you stop to think about it, what exactly is lost when discussing things virtually? While we certainly miss touching and hugging people these days, we definitely do not do so in a business setting. Indeed, what we need for good discussions is good eye contact, to see each other’s body language, and very importantly, to be comfortable in the “room.” So, perhaps being physically in-person at the mediation, is not really necessary after all? It’s a matter of changing our mindset…… And believe me, I have successfully resolved dozens of divorces and family conflict online over the years. It works really well! From my experience, I have repeatedly observed the beneficial aspects of mediating online. In fact, some mediators only have online mediation practices. I personally, prefer to give my clients a choice, and therefore, I offer both in-person as well as online/remote mediations!
What are the benefits of online mediations?
1— When one of the participants is not local. I used to use Skype for my mediations when one of the parties was unable to attend in-person. I was able to help my clients resolve their issues successfully and peaceful—and at an eighth of the cost of unnecessary litigation.
2— Parties do not have to be in the same room as one another. Oftentimes, one or both of the parties are resistant to agree to mediation not wanting to sit in the same room with the other party/ies. Perhaps the person is afraid of a power imbalance. Perhaps the party/ies are too angry or upset. Perhaps a person feels they cannot advocate for themselves whilst sitting in the same room. Well, the wonderful thing about online mediation, is that while the parties are able to see each other and interact, they are not physically in the same room. As my one client commented, “the buffer helps me feel more comfortable.” While she could see her spouse, she reported that she felt safer and calmer in her own space. This reaction is very common.
3— They are able to see their own faces. Why is this important? This appears to help them control themselves and actually listen which is so critical in creating a good settlement.
4— They are able to stay more focused on the issues and their future objectives. People cannot come to agreement when they are heated. Since the online setting enables them to better control themselves and have fewer heated arguments, they are able to stay focused on moving forward and to create a just and peaceful resolution.
5— As the Mediator, I am still capable of seeing the parties’ faces as well as their body language, and am able to assess when it is time to split up the parties into separate online rooms. I can speak with each individual privately, and when they are ready, they return back into joint session.
All of the above benefits allow the mediation to go along smoothly and result in shorter duration and equitable divorces.
While Online or Virtual or Remote Mediation appears to be a new concept for many, for me, it is a tried and true method to help my clients leave their past behind and to look forward with less stress, less cost, resolve their divorce, or family conflicts with dignity and peace.