781.708.4445

info@levinedisputeresolution.com

Divorce Mediation Blog

Online Dispute Resolution: Ready or Not, Its Already Here

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Recently, we attended the Massachusetts Bar Association’s inaugural Dispute Resolution Section symposium, and the annual AFCC meeting, each in Boston. Both programs featured extended discussions of mediation involving a “fourth party”, as in, the two parties, the mediator and technology.

We expected the focus to be running divorce mediations with an absent party or two, attending virtually by Skype or FaceTime, or even the good old-fashioned speaker phone. Most of us have done a bit of this and addressed the limitations imposed by the lack of eye-to-eye contact and the sense that the person on the screen or behind the phone is actually checking his email, or her text chain.

More profound was an AFCC speaker’s demonstration of a Dutch program wherein parties log on to a website that guides divorcing parties through a progression of multiple choice questions that range from the prosaic (biographical) to the attitudinal (“you image your child living…”) to the transactional (“you propose to…”). The notion is that mediation does not even have to be synchronous. As one speaker put it, in essence: “the client can sit in bed with a glass of cabernet and ponder a response…and we don’t often have a chance to mediate with cab.”

The upshot of the Dutch notion of online mediation for family law is that the mediator may just be reduced to the “chat” person you get when you go on a retailer’s website: “may we help you select a model?”. The Dutch model will even assign a mediator to “run” the process, taking our theoretical descriptor of “facilitative” to a new low, or new high, depending on your perspective.

We get how for many divorcing couples, whose issues are fairly rote and shaped by state-mandated formulas, much resolution can emerge from hi-tech questionnaires. But we, who spend our days doing the intensely personal work of educating, observing, empathizing, encouraging and reasoning with emotionally fraught parents and spouses, have a hard time seeing how the application of this kind of dispute resolution will translate to the population whom we generally serve.

Another AFCC speaker pointed out that we who pride ourselves on the personal attention we devote, are already engaged in Online Dispute Resolution when we email, text, spreadsheet and utilize cloud based services to communicate with and assist our clients. So, maybe we have the best of both worlds already.



Get e-mail notifications of new blog posts! Enter email address below.:



Delivered by FeedBurner

other articles


recent posts


tags

lawyer-attended mediation Massachusetts lawyers health insurance mediations Alimony Reform Act divorce lawyers fraud COLA Baseball Arbitration lawyer Divorce Agreements Matrimonial Arbitration alimony orders divorce mediations support orders alimony reform legislation mediation Baseball Players child support Act Reforming Alimony in the Commonwealth General term alimony divorce arbitrator divorce process Levine Dispute Resolution self-adjusting alimony Massachusetts alimony and child support divorce judgment divorce arbitration arbitration Obamacare family law arbitrator med/arb Same Sex Marriage Boston family law mediation divorce litigation family mediation Levine Dispute Resolution Center LLC LDRC Massachusetts facilitated negotiations how baseball arbitration works Massachusetts alimony divorce arbitrators divorce mediation mediators high-risk methodology annulment Levine Dispute Resolutions IRC §2704 MLB labor agreement Cohabitation medical benefits arbitrators divorce agreement alimony statute dispute resolution lawyers Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly traditional negotiations private dispute resolution Massachusetts divorce lawyers conciliation SJC family law arbitrators mediator Defense of Marriage Act divorce and family law mediators divorce mediator DOMA health coverage Levine Dispute Resolution Center Child Support Guidelines Chouteau Levine divorce mediators Divorce Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act Massachusetts divorce mediators pre-ARA alimony disputes Uniform Arbitration Act Self-adjusting alimony orders alimony law Baseball divorced family law family and probate law disputes rehabilitative alimony alimony family support Major League Baseball Arbitration special master resolve disputes separation med-arb litigation divorce and family law The Seven Sins of Alimony arbitrator Family Law Arbitration