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Couples Use Mediation to Resolve Divorce Conflicts During Pandemic

Thursday, September, 3, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has made a lot of things challenging for many people. This includes couples who had decided to end their marriage before the outbreak or came to that conclusion in the last few months after the pandemic began. They are in situations they want to change or were changing and now must find ways to move forward and resolve their conflicts in a safe manner, despite courts not allowing in-person appearances and not being able to meet face-to-face to discuss familial arrangements.


Many turned to mediation and continue to do so even as restrictions begin to ease. For many divorcing couples in Ottawa, the Virtual Family Law Project helped them deal with their situation. The program offers alternatives to the court system that include remote mediation and arbitration sessions.  This means couples and families can discuss their challenges without having to be in the same room.


An attorney involved with the project, Gerald Yemensky, hopes the program will continue even after COVID-19 restrictions are completely lifted. Yemensky says, "The court process is fundamentally necessary, particularly for the higher conflict situations.” He was talking about families that are dealing with domestic violence. He expands, “But for very many people, the court system is overkill. And mediation, collaborative family law, arbitration on specific issues can be far more effective. But it takes one element, and that element is that the parties want to resolve these issues. All of these things can be done ... in a virtual process where it is appropriate.”


Yemensky points out separation agreements that come out of mediation are just as enforceable by the courts as any other type of divorce agreement. Many people, including Yemensky, believe virtual options will remain in place for years to come because they are so efficient and effective.