When couples make the decision to divorce, there are a number of questions that still remain unanswered. Who will get the house? What will custody of the children look like? What happens to the retirement accounts? The savings accounts? The vacation home? In addition to questions, there is an emotional cost to the decision to divorce. Some couples are resigned, some are sad, some are angry and want to lash out at the other spouse. While objectively, we can probably all agree that decisions made in anger aren’t usually the most sound, in the moment, they frequently seem like good ideas.
What to do when you decide to divorce
The first step, of course, is to find a divorce attorney well skilled in Florida law. While a contested divorce may be required to settle disagreements about property division, and the children, a mediated divorce may be a more sensible solution.
What is a mediated divorce?
If the decision is made to attempt to mediate the divorce, this does not mean that a contested divorce, with decisions made by a judge in a courtroom, is no longer available. Rather mediation is attempted ahead of time because it frequently leads to a successful resolution of the issues. Mediation is considerably less formal than courtroom litigation. A neutral mediator, who has been trained in dispute resolution, carefully listens to the concerns of each party, and works with the parties to come to an agreed upon resolution that is acceptable. Unlike at a trial, the discussions in mediation remain confidential and private. Because of this, the parties can discuss issues without fear that what they say can be used against them later.
Benefits of mediated divorce
Mediated divorces save time, because they do not require the same amount of preparation of witnesses, discussions with experts, and general trial preparation that is involved in a contested divorce. This means the divorce will be resolved more quickly.
Mediated divorces save money. With a mediated divorce, you don’t have the expense of trial, trial preparation, witness preparation.
Finally, mediated divorces allow the participants to engage in meaningful discussions about resolving issues that are important to them. Rather than leaving important decisions the system, mediation allows the parties to take an active role in the process. A trial will result in a decision by a judge without discussion. A mediator can ask relevant questions and lead a discussion which allows the parties to mutually agree on a path forward.
Do I have to do a mediated divorce?
In cases where there is a disagreement about “parental responsibility, primary residence, access to, visitation with, or support of a child,” Florida law allows the judge to refer the parties to mediation.
Why do I need a lawyer if the mediator is going to work out the agreement between me and my spouse?
You still need an attorney to review the agreed upon mediation terms to assure yourself that all issues have been addressed and resolved. Additionally, a seasoned Florida divorce attorney will review the agreement for fairness and make sure the agreement protects your rights.
Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. is an experienced attorney, with a practice that includes divorce, and other areas of family law. Contact us today to see how we can assist you in ensuring that you are protected.