Town Hall Series: COVID-19 Won’t Stop Family Mediators

Part 3: Marketing Online Divorce and Family Mediation



Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney:

Virginia Colin: Not 100% at present. The mediators in my group practice are still willing to do face-to-face meetings if no one involved has had much exposure to others recently.

Jen’s Desk: I have a friend who has been doing online mediation exclusively and steadily. She says since the pandemic she has gotten NO work- people citing no money, changed circumstances, etc. what do you make of this?

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney: I think a lot of the differences in available work continuing probably has to do with variation in each of our particular business clientele make-up… some client groups are going to bear the economic impact of this crisis more than others

Josh Kraus: Everyone becoming an online mediator overnight doesn’t help, either.

Joanna Roth: I think that’s accurate. I rarely do settlement conferences at the end of the case, and I haven’t seen a big bump in business.

jenniferkresge: I agree. I also believe it’s important to remember we are most comfortable with what we’re used to.  However, that now is changing. Perfect timing to make the changes we may decide we would like to experience!

Nadia Shahram: How does everyone handle online payments? Are credit cards the only way to get paid online? I have been avoiding accepting cards, and checks have been working out until now!

Amy Robertson: e-transfer works well.

Kathleen Shack: Online mediation is a great platform for domestic violence cases.

amy: Zelle works well—bank to bank.

Jim Melamed: is effective scheduling and payment.

Kimberly Gallow: I have had numerous successful e-transfers from clients.

Lisa Kent: January 2021 is optimistic…I heard someone mention that Microsoft has cancelled all conferences and in-person meetings and is holding only virtual gatherings, until July 2021.

Melinda Milberg: I use LawPay for credit cards.

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney: If I may ask, what’s the reluctance to credit cards? If the issue is 3% fee, you can up your rates 3% and most clients probably wouldn’t blink.

Melinda Milberg: I don’t change my fee, and I just absorb the fee.

Sallie Mullins Thompson: Zelle is great. Just make sure your business bank account is set up to receive the cash via Zelle.

Kathleen Shack: I have clients pay the (extra) fee.

Jim Melamed: is kind of neat, as about 75 optional merchant choose to use it.

Ellice Halpern: I use Zelle and love it.

jenniferkresge: My first online mediation was in 1990. One parent was working in Saudi Arabia, so there wasn’t a constructive alternative. The process was born of need, as it is now. The parent in Saudi Arabia suggested, at the time, I ought to pursue this process in other cases.  He felt it was very useful. Change is challenging, as we are all experiencing now. FYI, it took 11 years for people to accept elevators, once they were available for use.

Adam Cordover: I think it is worth it to take credit cards, as clients expect that everyone accepts credit cards. Rather than charge the client the fee, I tend to think it is better to just build it into your hourly rate just like other overhead. I find Law Pay is good for Credit/Debit cards and e-checks.

Lana Shearer: CLIO for case management and billing integrates with LawPay. I love CLIO.

amy: LawPay also incorporated into client management platform I use—Zola Suites, also excellent.

Jann Bate Catto, MSW, CDFA: In order to use Zelle with your business account, your bank or credit union must currently offer Zelle for your business account type. Please note that not all banks and credit unions offering Zelle to consumers; they offer Zelle for small businesses. So, contact your bank directly to confirm.

Shawn Weber: MyCase allows for credit card and ACH payments.

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney:;

Oran Kaufman: I have been using Square for some time and just accept the 2.5% or so as cost of doing business and the advantage of not having to have clients owe you money, and no receivables. I just signed up for Apple Pay privately (not at work). Has anyone used that for work?  My understanding is that Venmo (which has no fees) is not supposed to be used for commercial transactions.

amy: Why not make that 15-min free consult by phone?

vivian kerenyi: How do you screen for abuse if you’re meeting parties together?

Kathleen Shack: GA has specific 2-tiered questions.

vshemin: For online booking, how do you screen for potential conflicts of interest?

Josh Kraus: Justin — which questions will you answer in an initial phone call, and which would you defer to the full initial consultation?

Amy Robertson: I like to kick the tires with a phone call, over meeting someone for an hour that may not work. Also, over the phone, I am getting a better understanding of the person and this helps me in the mediation. I realize that my views may change as it is not super-efficient, but neither is having someone reschedule at the last minute.

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney: Vicki, great question – when the booking comes in, we check, and cancel the booking if there’s a conflict… as part of the scheduling intake, we require they include the other interested parties’ names.

Marcie Kraft – Parenting Plan Peace: Venmo is not supposed to be used for commercial purposes, but many vendors do use it. Square is super easy to use … you can make an Invoice on Square, which is emailed to the client, who can then pay via credit card. Square charges 3% per charge + 30 cents. The other advantage is all of your receivables are in one place. Very user-friendly.

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney: Josh – I suggest that the initial call is about helping them decide if they need the full consult, so I try to direct it as a process conversation primarily.

Alice Shikina: Is the price for a consult the same as the mediation price?

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney: my consult is at my half my hourly rate – balancing between value and the “get to know me” portion.

Adam Cordover: Justin, do you require the paid consultation prior to moving forward with mediation, or can clients schedule a mediation without the consultation?

Kathleen Shack: Be aware that some of these credit card processing companies sell your information, and the client information, to others. Since I am a counselor, I have to use platforms that are HIPAA compliant. I use Simple Practice and Elavon through Costco.

Julie Gentili Armbrust: My consult is half my rate, too.

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney: Adam, I will allow clients to schedule a two-hour session where the first part is going to be the “consult”… I want them to understand the process and purposefully “choose” it before we begin.

Julie Gentili Armbrust: Clients need to be vetted by either myself or my staff, either through a phone call or through a consult, before they can schedule.

Oran Kaufman: Immediate response is key!  Unless I am in a mediation (or sleeping), I contact people back immediately! People really appreciate that. Also, people are always surprised (pleasantly so) that I call them back or email back quickly, and really appreciative when they talk to me personally. So often these days we talk to computers. My clients love when they communicate with me directly and quickly!

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney: I use and

Oran Kaufman: What does Stripe and Law Pay charge per month or year?

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney: Lawpay is $15 per month fee in addition to the percentage, but a lot of ways to get around that – if you have Clio, they waive the per month fee; Stripe doesn’t have a per month fee.

APFM Mediators: Also Square, Zoho Invoicing, and even cryptocurrency are options.

Melanie E. Grimes: I use Zelle for payments, primarily. Also, Venmo. Both are free. Attorneys sometime struggle getting used to Zelle. Most parties are familiar with Zelle and/or Venmo.

Max Rivers: I don’t think keeping written copies of credit cards is HIPPA compliant.

Danette: I still use PayPal and now Cash App. Most people use both for everyday payments, so makes it simple for them and me for accounting.

Dann Johns: Keeping credit card numbers may violate credit provider agreements.

Susan: Was curious who is using PayPal and any negative experiences.

Agata Zwierzchowski: We’ve been using PayPal for over 10 years with no issues.

creeksidemediation: I’m using PayPal and Cash App.

Danette: No negative experiences; just don’t like the extra fee, so Cash App is better.

Amy Robertson: I have a business PayPal account and it works well!

Anthony Licciardello: I use Paypal…it works fine. Almost all my clients use it.

jenniferkresge: I have that in my mediation agreement.

Max Rivers: I use PayPal. It integrates easily with my website and WooCommerce store. Downside: hard to get reports on one client’s payments over time.

Alice Shikina: Julie, I do the same thing! I also have it in the fee agreement regarding who pays what amount.

creeksidemediation: I’m passing along the 3% for PayPal.

Kimberly Barahona: Usually no problem with PayPal, but occasionally they will put a hold on a payment.

Rob Keiter: Stripe and PayPal integrated with website works great for payments. Calendly integrated with website works great for scheduling.

Max Rivers: I think it’s not legal to pass on the fee.

creeksidemediation: My fee agreement spells out who pays for what, and they choose ahead of time how they would like to be invoiced.

Alice Shikina: Another issue with Venmo is that the payer can request the money back and can get it more easily than if you used PayPal.

Danette: DocHub for elec. signature, send them to banks, ask for copy of sig page.

Rob Keiter: DocuSign for electronic signature; In Oklahoma, mediation agreements don’t have to be notarized. However, court documents do.

amy: NY passed bill allowing for video conference notarizing for now, as long as in NY.

Oran Kaufman: What are people making online payments for?  I assume that people pay for the mediation sessions at the end of the mediation so are we only talking about drafting and non-mediation session time? And if so, are people using retainers? That avoids the issue of even needing to pay online as there are no receivables.

Nadine Dalley: Adobe Sign for electronic signatures.

cwariel: Rhode Island just started an emergency electronic notarization. That will end. Get your state to pass the uniform law for electronic notarization.

Wally Marcus: Arizona has online notary as of July 1.

Janet Wiseman: Why can’t people have their bank personnel notarize in MASS? We have drive-through banking.

Nadine Dalley: Maryland and Virginia have electronic notary systems.

Rob Keiter: Mediation services are paid in advance online in my practice.

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney: Janet, some clients, especially with high-risk household members, aren’t leaving home at all.

andrea hirsch: Unless specific state requirement, agreements don’t need to be notarized to be enforceable, I don’t think.

Lisa Anderson: My fee agreement for mediations, and my participation agreement in a collaborative divorce include a section where the parties agree on how the fees will be split.  And the agreement is signed by all parties.

Janet Wiseman: I have a nice GREEN banner at the very top of the WEBSITE indicating that we are open for business VIA videoconference during Covid-19.

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney: Good sample banner on Amanda’s site:;

Shannon Lynch: What does everyone do with regards to scheduling fees and cancellation issues and cancellation fees depending on when people may cancel meetings?

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney: If your site is on WordPress, Codeable is a good alternative to Upwork, that is WordPress specific –

Shawn Weber: I agree that content is king- but in this environment, people’s attention spans are very short- shorter than before- so it is important to give information very concisely and quickly.

Oran Kaufman: Does anyone have experience with Blogger? My website uses bBogger and I have not been able to reach my webmaster, and it is set up that only he can manage certain portions of my website, like landing page. Thoughts?

Julie Gentili Armbrust: @Shannon Lynch – I don’t charge a cancellation fee. Never have. I look at it that I have plenty of work to keep me busy. That said, if they cancel two times, I tend to terminate them.

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney: Shannon, I don’t charge for cancelled meetings, because I emphasize the “voluntary” nature of all of this, but I do tell people if they cancel multiple times, we should discuss why.

Ellen Kandell: Kaizen, one small change.  Fabulous concept.  I have a blog post on my website about it,

Max Markin: Hey Woody! Are you a fan of W. Edwards Deming?

Kimberly Gallow: I also do not charge for cancelled meetings. I try to connect with clients about rescheduling based upon discussion why the cancellation happened.

Kathleen Shack: Do you have a 2-hour minimum?

Nadine Dalley: I do

Julie Gentili Armbrust: @kathleen Shack – yes, 2-hour min and max for mediation.

Janet Wiseman: My mediation sessions, for the most part are two hours. The exception is the last session may be an hour, to tie up loose ends.

jenniferkresge: Jim is absolutely correct regarding the video. Consider how some of us as politicians use this modality very effectively.

On Common Ground: かいぜんー Kaizen – The change for better.

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney: I schedule 2-hour meetings generally, but I only charge for the time used (hourly)… I want to encourage people to break when they need it rather than decide out of pressure.

Sallie Mullins Thompson: I agree with Max that is not legal to pass on the credit card fee. You can discount the $ amount charged to the clients if they pay in cash (a payment type with no fee). Setting that agreement up in advance is key so that the clients understand.

Adam Cordover: Sallie, it depends where you live. Florida permits passing on the credit card fee, but if I were a client, I would see it as nickel and diming. Rather, I just build it into my fee.

Doug Simpson: Woody–You win the best-background contest. Is it a poster, or what? Thanks.

Forrest Mosten: Stock photo of Torrey Pines, down the road.

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney: Thanks for the idea Jim – you can’t buy now because I just bought it.

Alice Shikina: I am offering 30-min free communication coaching for families who are dealing with conflict.

Jim Melamed: For those who may have interest, is offering a first 20-hour Online Family Mediation Training over 10 days (2 hours per day, also recorded) from May 11-22. Take a peek at Note a 10% discount for APFM Members.

Shannon Lynch: I think that training looks like an actual certification, is that correct?

Jim Melamed: Good move Justin – of course one domain does not preclude others . . .

On Common Ground: What is the conversion rate?

jenniferkresge: I’m making all my services pro-bono, not only to new contacts, also to my existing clients.  People are struggling to afford buying food, let alone conversations.

Shawn Weber: You inspired me Justin- just bought

Ginny Schneider: Since the courts are closed at least in Maine till June 1, it seems to me that we could be marketing mediation while courts are closed.

Julie Gentili Armbrust: @Ginny – I have my Google My Business indicating as much.

Oran Kaufman: Julie, what specifically are you putting on your Google My business page to advertise that?

Julie Gentili Armbrust: @Oran –

jenniferkresge: Woody, please send me the survey! Thank you!!

Terri DeCoster: I am interested. Where can we email a request for the self-survey?

Carol Betts: Woody, would you be willing to attach the survey to this chat? Thank you for your generosity!

besssteiger: Woody I would like to receive the survey too. Thank you: [email protected]

Harry Manasewich: Count me in too Woody.

Kate Hall: Woody, thank you for the offer to send the survey! [email protected].

Jann Bate Catto, MSW, CDFA: me too [email protected].

Lisa Anderson: I would like a copy of the survey also.  [email protected]

Alice Shikina: Me as well: [email protected]

Mardeyah Albardisi: I would like to receive the survey too. thanks: [email protected]

Forrest Mosten: Please send me an email at [email protected], and I will send back the survey–my tip: fill it out and share it with a colleague or trainer to discuss,

Josh Kraus: Have panelists who use paid SEO calculated their cost of customer acquisition?  What might a reasonable range look like?

Richard Brigham: Woody, I would like to receive your survey. [email protected].

Kathleen Shack: On google ads, do you use dynamic ads or regular ads?

Julie Gentili Armbrust: @Josh Kraus – I do not pay for SEO.

Lisa Jacobs: Thanks so much, Woody!  I’ll send you an email for the survey.

jenniferkresge: Thank you Woody, I will send you an email ~ Jennifer

Kimberly Gallow: I apologize. I would like the survey. [email protected]. Thanks.

Shawn Weber: for me it is all about connecting with professional referral sources—far more bang for the buck.

Julie Gentili Armbrust: @Shawn Weber – why not do BOTH?

Amanda Singer: Agreed Julie! We found both is a great combo.

Jeannie Barei: Guess who now owns Boom!!!

Jonathan Latimer: Can anyone refer an affordable resource to help me improve my website?

Julie Gentili Armbrust: @Jonathan – Yes, email me.

bcherelle: I would like to receive your survey Woody.  [email protected]

Josh Kraus: Jim., is it important for organic SEO to have that page live on your website or does it have the same effect in a blog post?

Judge Gil Jones – Ret. – Texas: I now have;;;;;;  🙂

Julie Gentili Armbrust: Look at Judge Gil Jones go!

Judge Gil Jones – Ret. – Texas: Can someone make me a loan for my domain registration fees?

TeKay: Jim by “linking to that page,” do you mean reposting the content…?

Adam Cordover: Thanks, Justin, for the inspiration!  Just got

Kathleen Shack: I got and!

Julie Gentili Armbrust: @Judge Gil Jones – since I own over 100 domains, you have just joined the domain hoarder club. Takes one to know one.

Jim Melamed: I just invested in GoDaddy and Zoom;  re:  “linking to that page” – yes get others to include “Online Divorce Mediation in (name state)” as the link that goes to a page of same name – golden re SEO.

Harry Manasewich: Jim: I’m not so sure Zoom will continue to be profitable, based on the reports of misleading privacy, servers mostly in China and a China based company, and the class action suit. The China connection is only highlighted because they must be answerable to the Chinese government.

Brian B. Egan: I just switched attendance from my tablet to my laptop, and can’t see prior chat items.  Will the chat indeed be saved and made available later?  If so, where do I find it and the chat from the prior two sessions? [All Session Chats will be up online at APFM website]

Jim Melamed: Re Zoom, yes reasons for concern . . . but my guess is that they will cure in response to marketplace demand – time will tell.

Susan: Great discussion this morning. So, appreciate the sharing and the wisdom of all the panelists and the thoughtful questions you have and are posing, Michael.

Herbertkroon:  Woody, thanks for being on this panel. I would like the survey, too. [email protected].  Thanks!

APFM Mediators: @Brian — we are working in curating the chat sessions with the goal of posting them on the APFM website, on the Town Hall page:

Harry Manasewich: Justin: Me too! Live long and prosper!

Kathleen Shack: I would like the survey, too,.[email protected].

Sallie Mullins Thompson: You can save the chat. Right click on the 3 dots and save. This goes to a Zoom folder on your PC hard drive.

Lisa Jacobs: Justin, love your new screen background!

Carol Betts: Justin, that totally explains the Enterprise looking bridge behind you.

Brian B. Egan: Survey, please, to [email protected].  Thanks!

STEVEN BOYD MENACK A Better Solution, Inc: Woody, please send the survey to me as well, to [email protected]. Thanks, Steve

Melissa Heard: Way to go Kathleen Shack!

Julie Gentili Armbrust: Homework for everyone – Read Donald Miller’s Story Brand book. If you know your ideal client and talk to your ideal client, you will build trust without having met your client.

Jennifer Hatch: Woody, I would appreciate a copy of the survey, as well to [email protected]. Thank you kindly.

Alice Shikina: @julie, I just finished that book this week! Great book!

Paul Fair: Woody, please send the survey to [email protected]. Much appreciation.

amy: Please send survey to [email protected]

Jeannie Barei: Absolutely!! Authenticity matters the most.

Josh Kraus: Jim do you think it is important to have people link to a page on our website or is a link to a blog post basically the same for organic SEO purposes?

Jim Melamed: Both – why limit?

Kathleen Shack: I just requested connections on the panelists’ LinkedIn pages.

colleen: I just purchased

Julie Gentili Armbrust: @Kathleen – I will be sure to accept your invitation on LinkedIn.

Rebecca Neale: Ditto to Julie! If anyone wants to connect on Twitter, I’m @BFLawyer.

Justin Kelsey – Mediator & Collaborative Attorney: Kathleen, good idea – if anyone wants to follow me on twitter:; or Instagram –

Anthony Licciardello: I would like the survey as well. Thanks!

Ellice Halpern: Many thanks to Michael and all panel members (and participants too)

Amanda Singer: Great idea! Our twitter is @SDFMC and our instagram sandiegomediators

Marcie Kraft – Parenting Plan Peace: Survey please … [email protected]   Thank you!

Terri DeCoster: I would like the survey from Woody as well. Thank you! [email protected]

  1. Anthony Licciardello: Re survey email is [email protected]

Danette: I would like the survey from Woody as well. Thank you! [email protected]

jenniferkresge: To follow up with what Jim is saying. It’s time we get involved in promoting legislation that addresses pro-active incentive for online dispute resolution.

Margaret: I would appreciate a copy of Woody’s survey. Please email [email protected].

Melinda Milberg: Thanks to the panel for great information.

Sallie Mullins Thompson: This was fabulous!!

Mary Raymont: Thank you so much. brilliant.

Lana Shearer: Amazing presentation, practical, relevant, very much appreciated!

Kimberly Gallow: Thanks very much.

Nadine Dalley: Excellent presentation

Shannon Lynch: You guys ROCK !! Thank you. So very helpful. While we were on this, I nabbed 12 domain names!!!

Mardeyah Albardisi: Thank you everyone for this fabulous work.

Anthony Licciardello: So well done! First timer.

Jeff Kruse: Best panel presentation I have seen all week, and I have seen a lot this week!

Heather: As always, great information! thank you everyone.

Alice Shikina: Thank you to all the panelists! This was great!

Adam Cordover: This has been great! Thank you all!

Marcie Kraft – Parenting Plan Peace: Thank you all!!  Really great presentation! I just bought about 20 new domain names (seriously! lol) Stay Well!

Harry Manasewich: Thanks so much to all and participants!


Brian B. Egan: Wonderful session — many thanks!

Kathleen Shack: Thank you for the information!

Julie King: Thank you, grateful for this beneficial information from all.

Lisa Jacobs: Awesome town hall series — thank you so much, everyone!

Wayne Olsen: Thanks for the opportunity to learn. Lots of notes and lots of research to do.

Sharon: Thank you, Michael, and panelists– time well spent!


Marcie Kraft – Parenting Plan Peace: Great job moderating, Michael!!

jenniferkresge: Thank you everyone. Wishing you health!

Jennifer Hatch: Thank you!

Jim Melamed: Wishing you all the best!

Carolan Hardy: Thank you.

Margaret: Thank you, panel

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