1. Location –  It’s important to find a private, quiet space where you can focus and hear without too much distraction. Sometimes, it’s the car, and other times, a den or patio works well. Try to think about best areas for reception, good lighting, as well as privacy. Decide whether you’d like to be in the same room as your spouse or partner or participating separately. There are pros and cons to each approach and it’s best to talk through logistics ahead of time so everyone feels comfortable.
  2. Test your equipment –  Whether trying to Zoom in on your smartphone, laptop, or office desktop, it’s important to feel comfortable with your equipment and have the latest internet browser or apps downloaded in advance. Ask your host for a practice Zoom or virtual meeting if you are unfamiliar with the platform they are using. At our office, we are happy to do a practice session at no charge with you to test it out. Remember to test your camera, your audio (microphone and speaker) as well as internet bandwidth. If your bandwidth is low, you may need to practice calling into the virtual meeting with your phone, in lieu of computer wi-fi for the audio.
  3. Meeting Invite – Copy and paste your meeting invite into your calendar or notes so it’s easy to click on or access at “go time.”  If your host hasn’t sent one ahead of time, it’s ok to ask or let them know you haven’t seen it as there may be confusion or messages landing in SPAM.
  4. Food and Water –  Grab your favorite snack and beverage ahead of the meeting as you may find yourself needing hydration or energy and immersed in a longer meeting than planned. You can always ask for a “bio break” during the meeting, but it will feel great to have food and water at your fingertips as well.
  5. Background – It may sound silly, but test out your camera in the background to make sure lighting is sufficient and there is nothing too personal or private in the camera’s view. You may even play with virtual backgrounds if you have a newer computer and this feature is enabled. Older computers tend to have distracting “ghosting” around our heads. There are “light rings” you can purchase if you find lighting isn’t sufficient where you hold your virtual meetings.
  6. Microphone – Remember to mute yourself when you’re not speaking during the meeting so that keystrokes, pen tapping, and other background noises are limited and you can feel comfortable making sounds without distracting the meeting.
  7. Breakout Rooms – If you think you might need to have a separate / private virtual room apart from another participant (during a high conflict divorce, for example), ask your host if he or she can enable that feature ahead of time. They may need to adjust settings on their end or upgrade their service and test it out so it goes smoothly during your meeting.
  8. Screen Sharing / Multiple Screens – It helps for a productive meeting to have a second screen, if possible (one for document viewing and one for seeing live faces in the meeting). It will also help if you open any important documents ahead of the meeting and have those windows open to be able to share them with meeting participants, if needed. The host may need to enable your screen sharing.
  9. Recording – If you are unsure of whether the meeting is being recorded, it’s important to ask since some types of meetings (mediation, for example) are supposed to be confidential and not advisable to be recorded. If there are concerns about desiring or not wanting to have a recording, it’s best to go over these protocols in advance of the meeting so there are no misunderstandings.
  10. Timing – Let your host and other participant(s) know whether you have a “hard stop” on the time for the meeting to adjourn, so your agenda can be carefully prioritized and your most time-sensitive questions or concerns are addressed. Creating an agenda is also important in the event of connectivity issues during the meeting so that the most pressing issues can be addressed first.

Please reach out to anyone at our office if you have questions about other aspects of virtual mediation and how to help it be successful for your family.  We are here to help and want to make it less stressful for everyone involved, as it’s already a difficult time for most meeting participants.

~~~

Tonya Alexander
Collaborative Attorney & Mediator
Alexander Law, PC
1925 NE Stucki Ave Ste 410
Hillsboro, OR 97006
503-531-9109

Tonya’s Website
Email Tonya

See www.YourPeacefulResolution.com for more information and additional resources.

 

 

The effects of a divorce on the children involved can be detrimental to their development into healthy adults. A 2019 study published in the journal World Psychology revealed that while most children of divorce go on to lead well-adjusted lives, some may face a variety of problems over the course of their lives due to their experiences in the divorce process. A good co-parenting relationship may help mitigate any negative effects from a divorce on children. One of the benefits of the Collaborative Divorce process is that it helps clients work toward that positive co-parenting relationship which ultimately benefits the children.

Co-parenting is the sharing of parenting responsibilities between the parents who are separating or getting divorced.  All families have some framework under which parenting duties are shared and decisions are made, some more functional than others.   When splitting up, some couples get caught up in the animosity of the adversarial process and lose site of what is best for the children.  Dysfunctional parenting frameworks can become even more so when communication breaks down.  Even the best parenting frameworks can become strained by the stress and emotion of a breakup.

How to Achieve a Co-Parenting Relationship

Divorce litigation usually will make an already strained relationship worse. The process of preparing for trial—think lawyers digging into financial records and questioning each partner in costly depositions—encourages each side to become more adversarial and further entrenched in a dysfunctional parenting framework.  The animosity and resentment engendered can affect the relationship for years after the divorce is final.

To better facilitate a co-parenting relationship, Collaborative Divorce fosters an environment conducive to creating a positive co-parenting relationship. Collaborative Divorce encourages the couple to communicate, problem solve, and compromise rather than battle it out in a zero-sum game, building the foundation for a more effective co-parenting relationship when the case is over.

Why Co-Parenting Helps  

 A good co-parenting relationship benefits parents and children alike. If the parents are able to communicate and trust one another, it makes both of their lives easier. Dealing with unforeseen circumstances, like a change in the time to pick up the kids for a holiday visit, can be achieved easily and without acrimony. It may also mean that they are more willing to share time and responsibilities, giving each parent ample time to build a solid relationship with the kids.

Good communication between parents helps keep children from being placed in the middle of parenting decisions or acting as a go-between for their parents.  When they know their parents are on the same page, children are discouraged from trying to play them off one another to meet their own agenda.

As the study in World Psychology notes, children are negatively affected by a bitter divorce.  Ask your friends or colleagues whose parents are divorced, and they will probably back up the psychologist’ findings with anecdotal evidence of their own. Their stories may differ based on whether their parents divorced with hostility and resentment verses those whose parents worked to treat each other with respect and dignity, communicate better, and rebuild some level of trust.  When a child’s needs are truly prioritized by both parents during divorce, they have a much better chance of growing into health, happy adults.