Mediation is a form of dispute resolution recommended and often mandated by Florida judges. While mediation offers many benefits for divorcing couples, it is not a productive approach for everyone. Learning about how mediation works and consulting your attorney can help you determine whether mediation is worthwhile for you.
If you have several points of disagreement with your soon-to-be ex, mediation can be a cost-effective alternative to litigating the issues in court. Because it is less formal, you can avoid the time and money spent on appearing for check-in meetings, collecting evidence and taking depositions.
Since mediation is less structured, the mediator has more leeway to suggest creative solutions. Mediation is designed to work on a cooperative, not adversarial, model. The mediator encourages the spouses to find common ground. Psychologically, the mediation process is less stressful than litigation, which can feel like an intense battle.
Mediation is also confidential, unlike a divorce trial, where everything raised in court is on the record and can potentially go public. The exception is if one of the parties brings up committing a crime, in which case the mediator may contact law enforcement.
The mediator is neutral, which means he or she has no power to make the parties produce evidence or agree to any provision. For this reason, mediation works better for couples who are genuinely doing their best to come up with a plan that works for everyone. If one of the parties is manipulating the other, hiding assets or engaging in abuse, mediation may not offer effective solutions.
Your mediator is not permitted to give you advice. For this reason, even if you anticipate a fairly easy resolution, you can and should have your attorney with you at all sessions. A qualified lawyer can help you understand what is going on and guide you in protecting your interests.
Mediation can cover many issues typically contested in a divorce, including property division, alimony and child custody. Florida courts also offer a Parenting Coordination mediation program with specially trained coordinators who can help the spouses develop an effective child-focused parenting plan.
If you think mediation could be a good option for resolving your issues, your attorney can work with you to ensure that the process is productive for you. Many people have concerns about the mediator favoring one party or emotions preventing the parties from coming to an agreement. An experienced attorney can address your concerns and give you everything you need to make informed decisi ons that are right for you.