As many couples in Florida may know, there is a litany of issues to resolve when partners opt to dissolve their marriage. Some of these issues are vital, such as child custody, spousal support and property division, and the successful resolution of a divorce may hinge upon them. If any one of these issues is contested, the state recommends that couples engage in mediation.
For example, highly contentious aspects of the child custody issue, including primary residence, visitation and parental responsibilities, may be settled using the devices of a professional mediator. For this reason, family law courts often initially refer divorce cases to mediation.
The expenses that derive from such services may accumulate quickly. According to Florida law, the financial responsibilities associated with mediation, including but not limited to filing and recording fees, mediation costs, service of process fees and expenses incurred by the clerk of the circuit court, are assessed against the non-prevailing obligor after the court makes a determination of the party's ability to pay such costs.
When the parties involved in a divorce agree on the contested issues, the mediator will prepare a consent order detailing the agreement and submit it for review. Once approved by both parties, the consent order will be reviewed by the court for ratification. Thereafter, the consent order may be enforced in the same manner as any other court order would be according to Florida law.
The mediation process may be an effective means for dispute resolution, and with it many divorcing couples obviate the need for litigation. However, it is critical for both spouses to individually retain a family law attorney, who may look after a spouse's rights and advocate his or her interests.
Source: The Florida Senate, "Mediation of certain contested issues.", October 07, 2014