Appropriate dispute resolution for families in high conflict including domestic violence can be challenging. In these cases virtual shuttle mediation
Appropriate dispute resolution for families in high conflict including domestic violence can be challenging. In these cases virtual shuttle mediation can be an effective tool.
In this process parties and their lawyers sit in separate rooms and the mediator goes back and forth between the two rooms. The mediator seeks to narrow the differences between the parties and find a settlement proposal that meets each party’s core interests.
1. Ease of Scheduling
In shuttle mediation, you and your spouse don’t meet face to face in the same room. Instead, you are in separate rooms and your mediator “shuttles” between you. The sessions can take place in person, over the telephone or online.
Many couples in high conflict and/or abuse situations find it unsafe to be in the same room together for various reasons. This is especially true if there has been physical and emotional abuse or a serious power imbalance between the parties.
Shuttle mediation can be used to allow these couples to resolve their divorce, custody and child support issues without the need for joint sessions in which they may feel unsafe. The process is very similar to traditional family mediation but can be conducted more quickly and efficiently because the couple can remain in separate rooms.
In cases involving intimate partner violence (IPV), safety concerns can make mediation difficult. However, a study using both shuttle and videoconferencing mediation found that, when conducted in a safe environment with strong safety protocols, such as caucusing sessions, IPV-related family disputes can be successfully mediated.
The participants in the study met in separate rooms located some distance apart from each other, while the mediator acted as messenger between them conveying proposals and counterproposals. This allowed parents with IPV to engage in the mediation process without having to be in the same room as each other, avoiding potential escalating hostilities or retraumatisation. This also allows parties to focus on the key issues in their dispute and reach a settlement. This can save significant time and cost compared to litigation.
This type of mediation requires the mediator to shuttle between two rooms. This takes a lot of time out of the actual session and can also make it harder for clients to process their agreements because they are not given enough time to review them.
At your Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) your mediator will ask whether shuttle mediation is an option for you and explain the pros and cons of this approach. If you decide that shuttle mediation is the best route for you, your mediator will discuss this with you in your MIAM appointment and arrange meetings with both parties.
Occasionally, former couples feel so uncomfortable in the same room due to past coercive or controlling behaviour that shuttle mediation is necessary. In such cases this is a good option for helping people in these high conflict situations move forward with their lives.
In family mediations for domestic violence or high conflict, privacy and confidentiality are vital to a successful outcome. It is a common practice for these types of cases to be conducted by shuttle, with the mediator going back and forth between the parties in separate rooms (physically or virtually in telephone or video mediated cases).
This process is called caucusing and it is a critical part of the mediation process. However, some critics claim that caucusing can lead to an emasculating effect in which one party can manipulate the neutral into giving in to their demands.
During the shuttle sessions, mediators discuss settlement proposals and counter-proposals in order to narrow the gap between the parties and find points of common ground that satisfy each side’s core interests. This is also a great time to clarify any misunderstandings that may have arisen during the course of the case.
When a shuttle mediation session takes place, the mediator will meet with each party separately to explore their issues and needs. The mediator will then communicate possible settlement proposals to each party. This can take place face to face or in separate rooms (also called a caucus).
At Family Circle Mediation we offer virtual shuttle mediation for high conflict and abuse situations. We find that this is a very effective way to mediate when people are not comfortable with being in the same room together, and can be especially helpful when there has been violence or abusive behaviour. Virtual shuttle sessions are also cheaper for everyone involved. However they do cost more to run than a joint session. This is why a supplement fee will apply.shuttle mediation pros and cons