It is difficult to reflect just how much has changed in the unprecedented circumstances surrounding Covid-19, in both the way we conduct our personal and professional lives.

If I had been told four months ago I would be conducting mediation sessions remotely from the comfort of home, I would have no doubt been equally apprehensive and skeptical. How could this be? Mediation is based on the benefits of face to face communication, body language and a very personal experience. How could this possibly be replicated on a screen? I would no doubt of asked the question, what is Zoom?

In a situation where it became clear the prospect of face to face meeting were likely to be several months away, and with people facing a whole host of issues arising as the impact of lockdown continued to take its toll, the concept of remote mediation became the “next best thing”. Rather than wait for weeks or months, it gave appropriate cases a safe forum to support clients moving forward with decisions to be taken in respect of their futures.

As time has passed by and we’ve all got used to the different emojis and backgrounds, it has struck me for some, it’s not the ‘next best thing’; where it is suitable it can actually be better! Clients have commented how they feel more relaxed, not as daunted by the prospect of travelling to an unfamiliar office.

Karen Zoom

Coupled with the extent of the delays the court system is facing with cases facing months before hearing dates can be found, remote mediation is becoming a favoured option in resolving all issues arising from relationship breakdown.

Writing about a recent mediation undertaken during lockdown, a client gave invaluable insight as to his experience of the mediation having been undertaken remotely:

“All of our mediation meetings were conducted over zoom. From a personal point of view, we found the “digital buffer“ presented by zoom allowed the parties to more freely express their feelings and concerns and avoided what might otherwise have been a very hostile physical interaction/environment (by comparison to conventional “in person” meetings).

In addition, the way in which zoom software works means that only one person can speak at any one time and it is technically quite difficult to interrupt someone once they “have the microphone“. Whilst this can have the disadvantage that one party can ‘hog the microphone’, it does allow parties to express their views without interruption and accordingly improves listening.

Finally, the fact that parties can participate from home is likely, in my view, to mean they are slightly more relaxed and therefore more able to engage constructively. For anyone, a divorce mediation in a strange office must be an intimidating experience.”

People will often ask me, what is the difference between having a lawyer and going to mediation? How will mediation feel? Whilst I endeavour to provide them with an explanation of the key differences between the roles, I feel the best insight comes from those who have experienced the process first hand as highlighted below:

“My thanks and appreciation for your help and support in mediating the financial settlement. I think that you played an important role in supporting us to reach a settlement. I thought your personal style and approach quickly built trust and confidence and you handled matters sensitively and thoughtfully. Given how difficult divorce is and how sensitised the participants are – this is a skill that is especially important.

I thought the way in which you established the context for the mediation in the first main mediation meeting was important and built my confidence in the process. More specifically, you explained that the advice given to clients by divorce lawyers can often focus on the best possible outcome for those clients, rather than a compromise position – inevitably clients entering mediation might benchmark their positions by reference to the advice they have received – but you were clear that the purpose of mediation is to seek to reach an agreement between the parties which was palatable to them, rather than representing their best possible outcome.

In terms of the mediation meetings themselves, I thought your style and way of interacting with us gave us both trust and confidence and allowed both parties to explore the issues openly.”

So, whatever the new “normal” is in the weeks and months ahead, one thing is for sure Zoom mediation will be a significant part of it, as a meaningful option for suitable cases for people starting their mediation journey.

If you think mediation can assist you, or anyone known to you, please email karenbeevers@evansderry.com.

Karen Beevers is an Accredited Mediator and Professional Practice Consultant able to undertake Child Inclusive Mediation.

Karen is also a Partner at Evans Derry and practising Collaborative Family Law Solicitor.


Although our offices now cannot provide public access, Evans Derry Solicitors is open for business in every other way!

Evans Derry Solicitors is well-prepared for the unprecedented level of disruption to UK business as result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We assure you, our clients, partners and third parties that we have a robust Business Continuity Plan which has been implemented. Due to Government guidance, our offices are not open to the public and the vast majority of our staff have begun working from home.

All of our staff are set up to continue with email; postal mail; fax; telephony and video/audio conferencing where required.

Although face-to-face meetings are unavailable in anything other than exceptional circumstances, we have plenty of trained staff to deal with enquiries should our workforce numbers be reduced through illness.

Please continue to use your normal means of contacting us; call us on 0121 770 1721 or by email on any new or existing matter. Should you have any special concerns, your team is available to provide advice as required.

We offer very warm wishes to you during these challenging times.

Stay Safe.

A New Era for Divorce Law

Yesterday came the long awaited announcement from the government that divorce laws in England and Wales will be changed as soon as parliamentary time becomes available to introduce “no-fault” divorces. This will remove the need for a person to blame their spouse in divorce proceedings where couples wish to divorce in the first two years after separation.

After previous plans to introduce “no fault “ based divorces were shelved in 1996, currently, if couples wish to divorce in the first two years of separation they are left with no option but to blame the other by proving either an adulterous relationship or unreasonable behaviour. If one spouse will not agree to a divorce or admit blame, under the current law a person would have to wait for a 5 year period to have passed before a divorce can be granted. This can inevitably lead to additional upset, stress and acrimony and have a lasting impact on their future relationship. This is particularly relevant where there are children, and parents need an ongoing relationship to effectively co-parent their children.

Under the new laws, there will be a minimum timeframe of 6 months from the date of the petition to the marriage being ended to give all involved a period of reflection on their decisions.

The news has been welcomed by all involved in working with and supporting separated families.

Partner, Karen Beevers of Evans Derry said:

“Whilst some have expressed concern over whether the new laws will make divorce too easy, my experience over the last 20 years is that nobody makes the decision their marriage has ended lightly. It usually follows many weeks, months and possibly years of trying to work out whether the marriage can be saved.

Having been involved in several collaborative family law cases where couples have shown great dignity in working out amicably, round the table with the assistance of their lawyers, all of their proposed future arrangements in respect of both their children and finances, it is an unnecessary and harmful exercise to then explain how one needs to find blame against the other for a divorce to be granted currently within the first two years of separation. The focus needs to be on resolution, and avoiding unnecessary acrimony to help families function post separation. The new proposed laws seem to strike the appropriate balance, whilst not undermining the sanctity of marriage”.

As at yet there is no formal date for the proposed changes, but it does now finally seem the end is in sight of the “blame game”.

For further information please contact Karen Beevers at karenbeevers@evansderry.com

New Job Opportunities

We are always on the lookout for talented, enthusiastic individuals to join the Evans Derry team.

If you believe you’ve got what it takes, or for more information, please send your CV and covering letter to richardholt@evansderry.com