Preparing For Mediation
In Florida, family law courts strongly encourage families to come up with their own divorce settlements in an out-of-court setting. Unfortunately, couples often are unable to do so on their own, in which case, the court may order mediation. Mediation is a flexible type of dispute resolution process, where an impartial third party facilitates negotiations between two parties in an effort to help the parties reach a mutually acceptable solution on their own. Mediation can save couples both time and money during the divorce process, so most are encouraged to make a legitimate effort at negotiation. Here are a few things you can do to prepare for your first mediation session.
The Mediation Process
The mediation process is pretty flexible and relatively informal in comparison to courtroom proceedings. The parties (couples, their attorneys, and the mediator assigned to the case) may decide to all meet together in a joint session. Alternatively, the mediator can meet with the two sides separately and bring offers and counteroffers to each side. If everyone agrees, the parties can even meet with the mediator without their attorneys, or even just with each other. All mediation proceedings are kept strictly confidential, which gives couples a lot more privacy than a much more public courtroom divorce.
Clarify Your Goals
One of the most important things that couples can do when preparing for mediation is to carefully consider what issues are most important to them and what their ultimate goals are. Perhaps coming up with a flexible child custody agreement is most critical, or if a couple doesn’t share children, maybe it is retaining the family home, or coming up with a workable alimony arrangement. By entering the mediation process confident in their own understanding of the situation, couples are often able to remain more open to each other’s points of view and to options that could arise during negotiations.
Prepare for Litigation
Although it’s important to keep a positive mindset, couples who attempt mediation should keep in mind what will happen if they cannot reach an agreement. In these cases, the parties will need to litigate the divorce in court, which can have repercussions for the parties’ relationship, time, and finances. It is, of course, important to remember what is at stake.
Before mediation proceedings start, participants should be sure to gather any information that they think will be relevant to the negotiations, including information about income and marital assets, as well as work and personal schedules. The details on these kinds of documents will be required to reach a resolution on matters, such as property division, alimony, and child custody and support.
Maximize the Opportunity for a Successful Mediation
To maximize the benefits of mediation, couples should remember to focus on participating honestly and courteously, to be willing to understand, even if they don’t agree with each other’s concerns, and to remain realistic about their goals and the potential outcomes of the meeting.
A Skilled Florida Divorce Mediation Attorney
If you want to try and resolve your divorce in an out-of-court setting, please call dedicated Florida divorce mediation lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. for advice and help. Call us at 954-945-7591 and we’ll help you set up a free consultation at your earliest convenience.