Family Mediation In Florida
Starting in the 1980’s Florida courts started implementing mandatory family mediation, which is a type of alternative dispute resolution for all divorcing couples. Under these rules, both parties to a Florida divorce are required to participate in mediation before litigating their case. Fortunately, many mediation proceedings result in settlement agreements, which means that couples won’t be required to engage in drawn-out divorce litigation. To learn more about divorce mediation, or to find out whether it could be right for you and your family, reach out to our office today.
What is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation, also often referred to as family mediation in Florida, is the process of addressing and attempting to resolve divorce-related issues with the aid of a neutral third party in an out-of-court setting. Divorcing couples can attempt mediation at any stage in their divorce proceedings, but in Florida, mediation is a mandatory step in family law cases that parties must take before a judge will sign off on a divorce. During these proceedings, the mediator, who is specially trained, will meet with both parties separately and then together in an attempt to reach a solution to divorce-related problems, like:
- Parenting schedules and child custody;
- Child support;
- Property division;
- Business succession; and
Mediation can play a critical role in ensuring a smooth transition into post-divorce life and can help the parties avoid the time-consuming litigation process.
Family Mediator Responsibilities
Mediators are professionally trained, neutral third parties, who are tasked with helping divorcing spouses discuss divorce disputes and come up with a mutually agreeable resolution to those issues. The mediator helps both parties stay on track, clarifies disagreements, and guides couples in coming up with solutions. Mediators must also stay completely impartial throughout the process and are barred from providing legal advice, or even counseling either party. In most cases, after being ordered to mediate a legal dispute, a couple has around two weeks to pick a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator. It is not uncommon, however, for a judge to step in and automatically assign a mediator to the couple’s case.
The Benefits of Mediation
Mediation is often preferable to litigation during divorce, as it can save the parties a significant amount of time, energy, and money by giving couples a chance to resolve their issues amicably in an out-of-court setting. Litigation often leaves one party feeling like he or she has lost, while mediation can result in resolutions that benefit both parties. Mediation is also private, more affordable, and usually more efficient than divorce litigation, while giving both parties the freedom and independence to come up with solutions to their family’s unique situations. If a mediation results in a settlement, that agreement will be fully enforceable, as long as it is approved by a judge at a final court hearing.
Do You Have Questions About Family Mediation?
To speak with an experienced Florida divorce mediation lawyer about what you can expect during mediation proceedings, please call Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591, or send us an online message today.