Mediation, what does this mean? To some, it may sound scary. Many people would like to avoid going through it altogether and proceed right through trial when going through a divorce. However, mediation might be the better and cheaper option. So, what is mediation and how can mediation help your case?
Florida Statute §44.1011(2) defines mediation as “a process whereby a neutral third person called a mediator acts to encourage and facilitate the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties. It is an informal and non-adversarial process with the objective of helping the disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement. In mediation, decision making authority rests with the parties. The role of the mediator includes, but is not limited to, assisting the parties in identifying issues, fostering joint problem solving, and exploring settlement alternatives.”
In Florida, during a divorce proceeding, mediation may be the best solution to come to a mutual mediated agreement that is the product of free and voluntary negotiations between the divorcing parties. Any of the parties involved may request mediation. In Broward County, mediation is mandatory before a party can proceed to a final trial. If the judge orders mediation, it is referred to as court-ordered mediation.
In most cases, especially when there are children involved, family mediation allows both sides to work together and come up with solutions regarding asset and liability division, and child custody issues. The goal of mediation is to come up with an agreement in a reasonable manner and without litigation. An advantage of mediation is that the agreement is specifically tailored to your family’s needs and goals without the interference of a judge. Florida Statute §44.1011 (2)(d) defines family mediation as “mediation of family matters, including married and unmarried persons, before and after judgments involving dissolution of marriage; property division; shared or sole parental responsibility; or child support, custody, and visitation involving emotional or financial considerations not usually present in other circuit civil cases. Negotiations in family mediation are primarily conducted by the parties. Counsel for each party may attend the mediation conference and privately communicate with their clients. However, the presence of counsel is not required, and, in the discretion of the mediator, and with the agreement of the parties, mediation may proceed in the absence of counsel unless otherwise ordered by the court.”
Some of the positive benefits of mediation are:
- Confidentiality. What is said in mediation is confidential.
- Impartiality. A mediator is a neutral party who is there to help you clarify disagreements.
- Finding solutions. A mediator can help you surpass difficulties communicating with the other party, and will help both sides to find potential solutions.
- Making your own decision. A mediator will help you expose and explain your concerns, but a mediator cannot make decisions for you.
- Legal agreement. Agreements reached during mediation become a legal contract and therefore are enforceable by the court.
- Save time and money. Since mediation is not a trial or arbitration, it can be even faster than a formal trial process, saving you time, money and even stress.
- Knowledge and understanding. You know exactly what you and the other party have agreed to, so you are not betting or waiting for a judge to make decisions for you, and also providing a better understanding of your particular case and the issues that created the conflict.
In Broward County, mediation is mandatory and an important process in a couple’s divorce proceedings or child custody issues that Seff & Capizzi Law Group takes seriously. At Seff & Capizzi Law Group, we regularly assist clients and provide valuable information for those that need assistance in understanding how to approach this particular situation in their own lives. If you think that mediation is an option you would like to pursue, please call us at (954) 920-9220. We have over 40 years of experience and offer a free consultation. Click here for more information about our family law practice and how Seff & Capizzi can help.