In Florida, mediation is used to help resolve family law matters in a timely manner with a neutral third party overseeing the interactions, often without the need for formal court appearances. Having an attorney who can guide you through mediation can give you an understanding of the process and what results you may expect from mediation.
Divorce in Florida, for example, requires mediation to promote a smooth division of marital assets and to ensure the well being of any children involved. Child custody can be determined with mediation and will help the parents create a parenting plan.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a structured process with a professional third party, a mediator, to help assist in resolving the conflicts between disputing parties. Mediation is commonly utilized during a divorce and to resolve child custody challenges, but is also used in civil cases related to businesses, landlord-tenant conflicts and small claims. This process uses negotiation techniques and communication to solve any conflicts or issues
Divorce mediation is sometimes required by state statute or in a prenuptial agreement. Parties can voluntarily choose to participate in mediation if they believe they can reach an agreement without going to court. Settling the dispute in mediation can save time and expenses instead of attending a trial. If not everything can be agreed upon by both parties in mediation, attending a court trial will be required.
With divorce in Florida, mediation is required to have a smooth transition with marital assets and to ensure the well-being of any children involved.
Benefits of Mediation
There are many benefits of attending mediation instead of going directly to litigation.
- Divorce mediation will cost less than court filing fees and expenses related to a trail
- Most mediation processes can be finalized faster, which will save you time you would have to wait when attending court
- Decisions are decided on together with people from both sides of the disagreement. A judge will not be forcing a decision upon you
- The parties will be negotiating their own settlements and will have more control of what the final outcome will be
- It will not be a part of your public record and is completely confidential
Steps of Mediation
A divorce mediation is designed to be a less formal meeting to resolve issues before escalating the problem to the state of Florida courts. Instead, everyone will be sitting around a table or office space and it will be facilitated by a trained third party professional. These are the procedures you can expect in a mediation:
- Mediator’s introductory remarks
- Parties’ opening statements
- Informative joint discussion
- Identifying the problem in a private caucus
- Negotiation between parties’
- Reaching an agreement and conclusion
The mediator will start with outlining the mediation process to both parties and explain how the rules work for the discussion. Each mediator can have their own rules, but the goal is to provide a good groundwork for communication. Common guidelines include:
- Taking turns speaking and not interrupting
- Agree to not blame or attack each other
- Listen respectfully
- Understand each person is entitled to their own opinion
- Request a break when needed
Then both sides will give a statement. The mediator may ask for clarification, but the parties do not usually question each other directly. Each side presents their view on the case and the mediator will meet with each person in a caucus to attempt to find a settlement.
How Long Does Mediation Take?
There is no set timeframe for mediation as each case has unique needs and outcomes. At the end of all the meetings, the mediator can present a potential solution to all parties involved. The mediator will go back and forth with proposals and changes until an agreement between the parties is finalized. Depending on the parties involved and the reason for mediation, the entire mediation process can take a few weeks to a few months to complete.
Mediation will end when:
- A full agreement is reached and both parties sign the agreement
- A partial agreement is reached, those are written down and signed, and the rest of the issues will be solved at trial
- The mediator declares an impasse where the parties are unable to agree on a certain decision, usually requiring to take a break and returning to the issue later
- The mediator will adjourn the mediation session to be continued a different day
An experienced lawyer can help you with the mediation process by going through the paperwork with you, advising on what the best course of action would be and will present your side and what you stand for. Contact LaFrance Law if you are in search of a mediator who will do all they can to facilitate a favorable outcome of mediation proceedings.