781.708.4445

wmlevine@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

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