We always talk about the empowerment that divorce mediation provides to the participants. The mediation process allows the couple to craft their own unique future plan. This usually occurs as a result of the dynamics exhibited between the parties and the professional shared experiences of the mediator.
However, what do you do when you are asked to mediate an agreement and only one of the parties can be present? This type of scenario may occur when one of the participants is in the armed forces, is incarcerated, or has been deported and is not allowed to return to this country.
Mediation can work when only one party is physically present with the mediator
With Internet services available, such as Skype, and conference calls, it is possible to provide for a fair and equitable agreement even though only one party physically meets with the mediator.
I meet with the person who is available and ask that she/he provide me with information that is part of my regular intake procedure. This comes after he/she is made aware of the information needed and after the parties have discussed and potentially come to agreement on some of these issues.
I then provide each party with a draft proposal via e-mail that includes the decisions they have made on such things as bank accounts, motor vehicles, marital property, pensions/retirement accounts and credit card debts. If needed, there is also a proposed parenting plan along with child support and maintenance calculations. I also include questions that I have within this text.
I ask the parties to identify issues that continue to be at impasse and we work through e-mail, conference calls or Skype to resolve these. Once the parties have agreement on all of their issues, I provide them with copies that are ready to be signed by them and a notary. When one of the parties resides in a foreign country, I insist that they provide evidence that they have access to a person who is the equivalent of a notary in that country to ensure and are able to provide a legal signature.
Mediating a settlement long distance can be a bit more time consuming than the traditional model, but with time and effort it can be accomplished.