Mediation is a process for assisted negotiation, problem solving and negotiation. Mediation is an informal process in which the parties resolve their own disputes without a judge imposing a solution upon them. Unlike a trial or arbitration, mediation gives the parties the opportunity to speak to each other in an informal setting that is guided by a neutral and impartial third person called a mediator. The mediator’s role is to help the parties communicate their positions to each other in a constructive manner so they can craft their own solutions.
The issues in divorce mediation can be resolved in a several hours, depending on the issues and the personalities involved. Some divorces are mediated in a single session. And, sometimes the process occurs over time, with a series of face-to-face and telephone sessions.
The desired outcome of the mediation process is a complete Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) which reflects a couple’s future plans for their children and their finances. Following each mediation session our clients receive a draft of their customized agreement. Ultimately, when the Marital Settlement Agreement is complete the mediator reads it with the clients, it is signed and notarized.
In general, mediation is often faster, cheaper, simpler, and more private then ongoing litigation. Mediation offers participants an opportunity to process their anger, address future events, and create customized resolutions that meets their individual needs.
A mediator is a neutral and impartial facilitator. A mediator is a neutral as to the participants and impartial as to the outcome.
Mediators have no decision-making authority. The mediator creates an environment for collaboration, communication, and problem solving; provides analysis, information, and options; and facilitates discussions between the parties in order to help them identify, define, and re-frame their needs and issues. The mediator may use a combination of joint and individual conferences. Occasionally the mediator may make suggestions, ultimately however the parties make the final decisions. Once a resolution is reached the mediator puts the parties’ agreement into writing.
Anything you both agree needs to be discussed can be discussed in mediation. The mediator will help you create the agenda for your dialogue. In the case of divorce this agenda should include how you will divide your debts and your financial resources. If there are children involved a time sharing and decision-making plan, as well as the details regarding child support, must be included.
When we think about divorce and other family issues, we focus on the classic issues of marital property, support, and parenting. In mediation, we focus on empowering the couple to address and resolve the issues that are before the court. If the couple agrees with such resolution, the mediator drafts the Mediated Marital Settlement Agreement that addresses the Parenting Plan if there are children, the distribution of property, alimony, and child support (if applicable). These agreements become the blueprints for the future.
Mediation sessions are informal, relaxed, safe, and confidential. Most importantly, mediation is a faster process than ongoing litigation, saving time and money so household resources can remain with the families, as well as being less stressful on the parties and their children.
When unmarried parents find their relationship is at an end they often need to find parenting solutions for the children that they share. The issues involved can include legally establishing who is their child’s father, creating a time-sharing schedule, and/or calculating child support payments. Your mediator can help you and your co-parent reach agreement regarding time sharing with your children, child support, and other expenses.
Mediation may be voluntary or court ordered. Nearly all family courts require mediation before the case is scheduled on the court’s calendar or goes to final judgment, even if you are represented by an attorney. If you are represented, your attorney will arrange for mediation in your case, and if you are not represented, you may arrange for mediation directly with me. Parties can voluntarily agree to go to mediation prior to filing their case or anytime during the court process.
What is Florida’s residency requirement?
It is not required to use attorneys during the divorce process. However, the traditional attorney-driven divorce model is still the right model for some families. An attorney is necessary when one spouse needs legal protection. So, for example, if one spouse does not know what the marital assets are or how much the other spouse earns, s/he may want an attorney to investigate all of these details before agreeing to any financial arrangements. Additionally, if one spouse feels intimidated as the result of domestic violence or other coercion, negotiating without a lawyer is not a good idea.
A Mediator cannot offer legal advice, protect either spouse’s legal rights or investigate in order to find hidden assets. If that is what you need you should seek guidance from an experienced attorney. On the other hand, if that is not what you need, you can use our service and supplement the process (if you choose to) by consulting with an attorney or CPA before or during the mediation process so that you can obtain a legal opinion as to your worst- and best-case scenarios.
We encourage all of our clients to consult with independent legal counsel and an independent CPA prior to signing any documents. Additionally, as you go through the mediation process you may find it helpful to consult with other experts such as a Forensic CPA, Tax Attorney, Business Appraiser/Valuator, Real Estate Appraiser, Real Estate Attorney, Antique and Collectible Appraiser, Financial Planner, Child Development Specialist, and/or a Psychologist or other mental health professional.
We do not have legal separation status in Florida. Plus, there is no separation requirement prior to divorce.
There are Clear Benefits of Mediation: In mediation, you Control the Outcome: In trial, and only knowing of you for a short period, the judge decides on your future. In mediation, you, and the other party work cooperatively to reach a settlement that you both find agreeable. Mediation is Less Expensive: There are no court costs in mediation, and depending on the complexity of your claim you may be able to conduct mediation without a lawyer, which eliminates that legal expense.
Mediation Saves Time: Litigation can often take many months or years depending upon the complexity of the case and the degree of conflict. Mediation can be completed in one or several sessions.
Mediation Saves Money: The average cost of a litigated divorce is about $25,000 with costs going much higher if the parties use the courts to engage in all-out war. Saves Relationships: The animosity that develops in litigation is particularly damaging in family law, where the parties may deal with each other for years after the trial is over. Rather than fostering hostility, mediation helps the parties develop the skills necessary to continue discussing, negotiating, and cooperating with each other for the long term. Better Compliance: When couples have the opportunity to work out their own agreement, they are more likely to abide by the agreement and avoid additional litigation costs to enforce it later. Privacy: Often litigation involves matters the parties may wish to keep private. All documents filed with the court are public records that can be viewed upon request. Mediation, with its protection of confidentiality, is well suited to protect the privacy interests of the parties. Creativity: The couple can be creative in crafting solutions to their unique issues whereas a judge, who must get through a big caseload, usually applies cookie cutter solutions without considering the couples uniqueness. Self-determination: No one knows what is best for you better than you do, and in mediation, all decisions are yours. There is no judge or arbitrator to impose a decision upon you.
The courts have recognized the crucial value of using mediation as a component of litigation, and have implemented mandatory mediation in all family law cases filed with the courts. Whether you have an attorney representing your interests or not, chances are you will end up in mediation. The mediator, acting as a neutral third party promotes the empowerment of the spouses to take charge of the future of their family and make decisions amongst themselves, instead of being determined by the Court.
……and mediation is appropriate for divorcing couples with and without attorneys.
Unfortunately, not all disputes can be resolved through mediation or alternative dispute resolution. If you are facing a legal conflict, ask yourself, “Should I Hire a Mediator?” Sometimes, the conflict is so contentious that the opposing parties are unable to cooperate to reach an agreement. In addition, mediation cannot work in divorce cases that involve domestic violence.
The mediator can help you come to mutually acceptable agreements over issues such as:
Child time-sharing/ Property division/Child support/ Spousal support. Once you and your spouse have decided on terms of a settlement, the mediator prepares a document called the “Marital Settlement Agreement.”
If you are court ordered to mediation, you are required to attend mediation. However, the process itself is consensual and confidential. You are required to attend. You can leave at any time after mediation commences, which is after the mediator gives an opening statement. The question that really lies after that is Should you refuse the benefits of family mediation? Going through family mediation can peacefully resolve disputes, it is more affordable than hiring a lawyer and filing a case in court. Moreover, you can have the privacy to deal with your issues, unlike being in court where you might be talking in front of an audience during the trial. Before refusing, think of the solutions that both parties might get in a faster and peaceful way instead of filing a case against each other.
The purpose of a divorce mediator is to be the third neutral person during divorce mediation. The mediator does not represent any party and is not bias. The mediator is there to guide you through the process of divorce and arrive at it in a peaceful way. Unlike a lawyer who is there to represent your interests, the mediator is impartial.
The divorce will be final after the final judgment is stamped by the Judge. in a few steps. You will sign a mediation agreement and it will be filed in court to be heard by a judge. It will not take long if the judge will see that both parties agree with what they signed, both parties voluntarily signed the mediation agreement, and the agreement is in compliance with divorce laws. The waiting time depends on the county you live in- it can be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. During waiting time, you can both agree on how you will live separately and divide the costs.
The differences between mediation and arbitration all stem from the fact that, in a mediation, the parties retain responsibility for and control over the dispute and do not transfer decision-making power to the mediator. Naturally, in view of these differences, mediation is a more informal procedure than arbitration.