Divorce Mediation Is Mandatory In Florida
Unlike many states, Florida actually requires divorcing couples to attempt mediation. While not all mediation proceedings are successful, they can save couples a significant amount of time, money, and stress, so making a real attempt to settle your differences is encouraged. Going to mediation does not mean, however, that you won’t need a legal representative on your side who can help ensure that any property settlements, alimony awards, or child custody arrangements that you reach are fair, so if you and your spouse are considering divorce, you should think about retaining an experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce mediation attorney who can help navigate the mediation process.
Florida is a no-fault divorce state, which means that unlike in prior decades, couples who wish to end their legal union don’t have to prove that the other person caused the breakup. Instead, the parties need only assert that their marriage is irretrievably broken. Furthermore, at least one spouse needs to have resided in the state for at least six months. The hard part about divorce is not usually these initial proceedings, but how issues regarding property division, alimony, and child custody are resolved. Putting off these decisions isn’t possible, as courts will only finalize a divorce once they have been addressed.
Resolving these matters can be done in a couple of different ways, the first is through out-of-court negotiation, like mediation. The second, however, requires the intervention of a judge who will make a ruling on these issues without the parties’ input. To help avoid the latter, Florida law actually requires couples to attempt mediation before they can take their divorce to trial.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution wherein a neutral third party (mediator) attempts to help a couple come to an agreement on divorce-related issues, like property division and alimony. Unlike arbitrators, mediators aren’t allowed to make a decision on the parties’ behalf. Instead, they work with both sides to decide what is most important to the parties and how much they are willing to negotiate. Mediation proceedings don’t take place in a courtroom, but usually at a mediator or attorney’s office and in the presence of both parties’ lawyers.
Couples aren’t required to resolve their differences in mediation, but have the option of taking their case to trial, where both sides will have the opportunity to convince a judge of their position. Under Florida law, however, mediation must at least be attempted before this step is taken.
How a Skilled Divorce Mediation Lawyer Can Help
While mediation isn’t always the answer in divorce proceedings, it does play an important role in helping many couples resolve their differences in a way that is beneficial to both parties. For help navigating the mediation process, please reach out to dedicated divorce mediation attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. by calling our office at 954-945-7591. Initial consultations are offered free of charge, so don’t hesitate to call or contact us online today for help.