Why Do I Need a Lawyer for Mediation?
In family law, mediation can be very beneficial for allowing the parties to meet in a private, confidential setting, with a neutral third party who assists them with communication and staying on course with an outcome or potential agreement coming out of the mediation. The mediator, however, is not an attorney, and cannot provide you with legal advice, making it crucial that an experienced family law attorney provides you with advice so that your interests and rights are represented, and you do not negotiate what is most important to you.
When mediation works, it works well; it keeps parties out of court, typically costs a lot less, and avoids a lot of the tension associated with a divorce case, which can affect any children a couple might have together.
Specifically, an attorney assisting you prepare for mediation can help you:
Understand the Law
A mediator cannot provide you with legal advice, they can only help both parties speak to one another and try to reach a solution. Specifically, the mediator must remain neutral, not force the parties into an agreement, and work for the mutual good of both parties. This means that you must enter your mediation session(s) with a clear understanding of the law and how it affects your interests.
Make Informed Decisions
Many mediation sessions do not end in full agreement, but you can still come up with a partial agreement, and leave some issues to the court to decide. The decision entailed in this agreement, whether it is extensive, or only covers one issue (such as child custody or visitation), these decisions will most likely affect the rest of your life – finances, time with children, child support, etc.
Complete the Legal Procedures and Forms Required
It is important to note that there is no requirement to come to an agreement when you finish mediation session(s). When you have an attorney working with you, you and your attorney can review the agreement and prepare a stipulation based on that agreement. This gives you the opportunity to ensure that you understand all of the various decisions entailed in the agreement before it is finalized.
If you do not have an attorney, typically you must prepare a Memorandum of Understanding or stipulation on your own, and this can be submitted to the court as an order. Once it is approved by the judge or magistrate, it is enforceable.
Learn More about Mediation in Florida
Mediation can be used anytime before or after legal papers are filed, and can be arranged for privately or through Family Court Services. Many counties require mediation in custody and visitation cases.
Many Florida families have discovered the benefits of resolving divorce, paternity, custody and other legal conflicts through mediation. To see if mediation is a good option for you, contact Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. to schedule a consultation.