What Is Mediation?
In family law, mediation is a process in which you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party (the mediator) to work through issues related to your divorce, including division of assets and liabilities, spousal support (alimony), child support, living arrangements / time-sharing for the children, parental responsibilities and tax considerations. It is an informal, confidential conflict management process geared toward effective problem solving. The mediation process allows the parties a great deal of guidance, support, and flexibility in reaching these decisions and in navigating through the court process. The mediator DOES NOT MAKE DECISIONS OR DECIDE ISSUES IN YOUR CASE. Instead, the mediator acts as an impartial facilitator, helping you find voluntary, mutually acceptable resolutions. In mediation, you and your spouse (not the judge) are the ones that make the decisions that effect your lives.
Do I Have To Hire An Attorney To Attend Mediation?
Mediation may be conducted with or without attorneys. The choice is yours.
How Long Does Mediation Take?
Typically, the mediation process takes between two and eight hours, depending on the complexity of the issues and the personalities involved. Some divorces can be mediated in a single session. Often, the process occurs over a few weeks in two or more face-to-face sessions.
Why Should I Mediate Instead Of Having My Day In Court?
When you go to court, you are placing the decision making process in the hands of a judge. You can never really be sure what a judge will decide in a case and rulings can be incredibly unpredictable. Mediation is one way to take control over the outcome of a dispute. People choose mediation to avoid having a judge, who has spent a very limited amount of time with you, decide when and where you can see your children. Florida law requires all parties to mediate prior to trial. Mediation carries many advantages, including the opportunity to avoid significant legal fees.
Studies show that families who mediate their differences have a substantially better after-divorce relationship than families who litigate their differences. Parents who use mediation as an alternative to divorce litigation often can remain on amicable terms and be effective co-parents. Parents get to decide for themselves how they will parent in the future and share time. Mediators use a variety of negotiating techniques to help parties reach a mutually agreeable solution to their differences and the mediation process allows the parties a great deal of guidance, support, and flexibility in reaching these decisions. The final decisions are the parties, not the mediator's.
Is Mediation Expensive?
Mediation typically costs a fraction of fees incurred in traditional litigation. Litigation is very expensive, with the cost of attorneys, expert witnesses, and time taken away from more positive pursuits. It is far less costly for parties to hire one mediator than to hire two attorneys. If you can successfully resolve all of the issues in your case, from property division, child support, to custody, you will be many dollars ahead. Also, there is no retainer. Mediation services are charged on an hourly basis for the time the parties spend in session. Mediation fees are typically shared by both parties and are paid at the end of each session. Parties generally report more satisfaction after reaching an agreement thru mediation and fewer parties return to court with post-divorce disputes.
Is Mediation Confidential?
Just like in Vegas, what happens in mediation stays in mediation! The mediator is sworn to confidentiality, except where disclosure is required by law. Similarly, the discussions between the two parties cannot be used against either party in court. The judge will not know what you discussed during the mediation. Moreover, the emotional and often embarrassing issues that are raised in divorce and child custody difficulties will be kept private, as opposed to a trial where all of the proceedings are part of the public record.
Do We Have To Mediate ALL Of The Issues In Our Case?
NO! We have had overwhelming success helping parties to reach an agreement on all issues. However, if issues remain, a Partial Agreement can be prepared on all settled issues. You can then litigate the remaining issues or take further time to think about them and come back to mediation. Even if only a partial agreement is reached through mediation, it still can help to narrow the issues and limit the time and money spent on your case. By choosing to attend mediation, you are in no way giving up your right to litigate your dispute. What has occurred in mediation is confidential and is not admissible in court or through discovery, except when disclosure is required by law.
Do We Have To Have A Case Filed In Order To Mediate?
NO! You do not need to file for divorce in order to come to mediation. Once all of your issues are resolved during mediation, the mediator will draft an Agreement for you and your spouse to sign. Then, one of you can file for an uncontested divorce without attorneys.
Do We Have To Be Married In Order To Mediate?
NO! Both married and unmarried individuals can benefit from the services of a family mediator. There are many ways that mediation can be useful in traditional or non-traditional matters involving the family. We can mediate issues that have come up after a divorce was finalized, such as modifying parenting plans and/or finances. We can also mediate issues concerning paternity matters for unmarried parents, such as parental rights and responsibilities, child support, time-sharing, or other like concerns.
What If I Am Uncomfortable Talking To My Significant Other?
Many couples are emotional about their divorce and don’t think they can negotiate face to face. Parkland Mediation is an experienced, Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator. This training and experience allows us to effectively help couples who have high emotions but still wish to resolve their issues in a peaceful, cost-effective manner. People become effective mediation participants when they see the process working. Most mediating couples can work well together in joint mediation sessions. However, if your unique circumstances do not make this possible, the mediator can meet with each party separately.
What If My Significant Other Lives Far Away?
Through the use of video conferencing software, Parkland Mediation is able to conduct mediations with parties that live anywhere in the world.
Is My Case Too Complicated For Mediation?
No case is too complicated to be settled using mediation. Frequently, the parties in mediation will consult with experts such as accountants, appraisers, financial planners, and attorneys during the process.
Will The Agreement Be Enforceable?
A mediated agreement which is signed by the parties is a contract, and as such, is binding. If there is a pending case file, a judgment based on the agreement is prepared and filed with the court, and is just as enforceable as any other divorce judgment.
How Do I Get Started?