Some Florida residents who are contemplating divorce may be apprehensive about reaching agreement on various issues with the other spouse. For some, it is not difficult, while for others it is complex. As the number of divorces has grown nationwide, many courts are turning to the mediation process as an additional step toward divorce. Many couples have seen mediation as a way to settle their differences without undue contention.
Mediation may be court-ordered or voluntarily chosen. It is frequently ordered when disputes over child custody arise. Since divorcing parents still face difficult decisions concerning child care, mediation may help to style an agreement that meets the parents' needs. Another aspect of mediation often favored by a divorcing couple is its inherent confidentiality. While discussions in mediation encourage transparency, the actual proceedings, unlike those in litigation, remain confidential.
Mediation begins with a joint meeting between the spouses and the mediator to set the stage for mediation. After agreeing to non-disclosure unless it is approved, each spouse or a designated representative provides an overview of focus areas that may require attention as well as the spouses' expectations. If the spouses are not able to engage while together in a common caucus, the mediator may suggest a private meeting with just an individual spouse, his or her representative and the mediator. Again, this discussion is confidential.
If the spouses agree, a settlement document is signed and presented to the court. If there is no agreement after the initial conference, a future meeting may be recommended. Those who wish to use this method of alternative dispute resolution may benefit from consulting with an attorney. The attorney may assist in selecting a mediator and be present at the sessions as well as provide representation to one of the spouses throughout the process.
Source: Findlaw, "Divorce Mediation - Overview", December 31, 2014