In family law cases, mediation can save significant time, money, and emotional stress for families. Mediation can be conducted in person or via Zoom, and each method has advantages and disadvantages. As a family law mediation firm serving Fort Bend County and Harris County, Texas, we are skilled at utilizing both options and understand the pros and cons of each. In this blog post, we compare the use of in-person and Zoom mediation to help attorneys and their clients decide which option is best for their case.
The Zoom Revolution
Covid-19 changed our lives in profound ways. In the legal profession, Covid catapulted lawyers and their clients into the world of video teleconferencing. For better or worse, we all had to up our technology game and learn how to get together without actually being together. Enter Zoom...
With the help of the Office of Court Administration and the Texas Supreme Court, Texas trial courts rapidly deployed virtual courtrooms through the use of Zoom. In the 328th District Court of Fort Bend County, we embraced this technology and didn't skip a beat in keeping our dockets moving and ensuring that litigants in our court could get their cases heard timely and safely. As family court judges, we conducted hundreds of hearings and trials via Zoom. It was quite a learning experience.
While the ability to attend court hearings and mediations amid a pandemic was a Godsend, I wonder if some of the magic of being in the same room, up close and personal, was lost in the virtual world. Nevertheless, Zoom is a fantastic technology and is clearly here to stay. For the mediation of family law cases, Zoom has secured a solid place, particularly when the parties live in different cities or when the busy schedules of the attorneys don't allow for the time and travel required to conduct a mediation in person. To be sure, Zoom is convenient and practical, but at what cost?
When dealing with family law cases, where emotions and feelings are often just as important as the parties' assets and liabilities, I believe the impersonal nature of Zoom mediation cannot compare to the more personal nature of an in-person, face-to-face in-person meeting. That being said, we have become quite skilled at mediating cases with Zoom, and while not perfect, in many situations, it is a true blessing for the parties.
In-Person v. Zoom - Which is Best?
An in-person meeting in a neutral office is the traditional mediation method, where the mediator, the parties, and their attorneys meet physically to discuss and resolve disputes. This method has several advantages. First, it allows for more personal and face-to-face interaction between the parties, which can be beneficial in building trust and understanding between the mediator and the parties. Second, it allows the mediator to observe the parties' body language and nonverbal cues, which can be important in understanding their needs, interests, and the emotional dynamics of a case. Third, it allows the parties to more easily review and discuss physical evidence, such as documents and photographs, that may be important in the case.
Mediation via Zoom has several advantages as well. First, it allows the parties to participate in mediation from the comfort of their homes or offices, which can be especially beneficial for those who have mobility issues or live far away from the physical location of the mediation. Second, it allows the parties to schedule mediation at a convenient time, regardless of their location. Third, it can save time and money for the parties by reducing time and eliminating the need for travel and lodging expenses.
Despite its advantages, in-person mediation can be more expensive due to the time required to attend and the potential need for travel, with the attendant costs. In-person mediation may also be more difficult to schedule due to the busy work schedules of the parties and their lawyers. On the other hand, Zoom mediation can lack the personal and face-to-face interaction that can be beneficial in building trust and understanding between the parties. Additionally, the mediator may not be able to observe the parties' body language and nonverbal cues as effectively as they would in person.
Both in-person and Zoom mediation have their unique advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of which method to use will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the preferences of the parties involved. It is essential for the mediator to be familiar with both methods and to be able to offer each option to the parties. And so the answer to the question of which way is "best" is, not surprisingly, "It depends."
We're Ready to Assist Regardless of Which Method You Choose
As a family law mediation specialty firm serving Fort Bend County and Harris County, Texas, we understand there are different mediation methods, and each option has its pros and cons. Whether in-person or via Zoom, we are equipped to assist families in Fort Bend and Harris Counties with their family law mediation needs, including divorce mediation, child custody mediation, mediation for a parenting plan and child support, and alternatives to traditional divorce litigation. We are happy to work with you to understand your needs and preferences better and to help you choose the best option for your particular situation.
Armatys Millard is Here to Help!
Armatys Millard, PLLC, offers Mediation and Arbitration services for family law cases of all types, including divorce, custody, modification, and complex property disputes. Services are available in person, via Zoom videoconferencing, or a hybrid of the two. Mediation and Arbitration services are available in half or full-day sessions. We even offer flexible after-hours sessions for those with busy schedules, including three-hour evening sessions from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. or Saturday sessions from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Conveniently located in Historic Downtown Richmond near the Justice Center, our well-appointed offices provide a comfortable, relaxed, and safe atmosphere with high-speed wireless internet access and ample onsite parking. If you need to mediate or arbitrate a Fort Bend County or Harris County, Texas divorce, custody dispute, or other family law issue, Armatys Millard has the experience, knowledge, and judicial wisdom to help.