Divorce & Family Mediation

Do I have to Attend Court Ordered Mediation?

The short answer is, "you should want to, and you may have have to."  Many Florida family courts order mediation in any family law case including divorce and paternity actions, before a court will enter a final judgment or grant temporary relief.  If you have a case pending in family court, and you have been court ordered to attend mediation, you must attend mediation.

view Mediation Calendar for availability.

You may choose to attend mediation to resolve your divorce or family law case, even though you have not been court ordered to attend mediation.  In other words, you do not need a court order to attend mediation.

Whether you have been court ordered to attend mediation or not, mediation is an important step in your family law case.  Mediation is an opportunity for you and the other party to discuss resolution of your case under terms you can both agree to.  During a mediation session, all issues can be discussed.  Issues include: division of marital assets and liabilities, alimony, child support, and a parenting plan.  These are important issues in your life and the life of your spouse or other parent, and children if your case involves minor children.  Surely no one would disagree with that.  Mediation gives you and your spouse or other parent the power to determine the outcome of your case, and gives both parties the power to resolve important issues in a voluntary and confidential setting.

What is the alternative?  If your case cannot be resolved in mediation, a family law judges will decide on the issues of your case.  This means that a family law judge will decide how to divide marital assets and liabilities.  A family law judge will decide how and when parents may see their children by establishing a parenting plan.  Mediation is your chance to resolve your case under agreed terms, instead of a court deciding for you.

Prepare to Attend Family and Custody Mediation

Some Key Do's of Attending Family and Custody Mediation

  1. Do Keep an open mind.  Mediation is voluntary, and you have to want to reach an agreement with your spouse or other parent.
  2. Do your homework. Before you get to mediation, take the time to understand your position, and if possible the position of your spouse or other parent. Come to mediation with a parenting plan (if your case involves minor children) and logical reasons why your parenting plan should be implemented.
  3. Do Review applicable family laws and some common family forms.
  4. Do get a good a good night's sleep so that you are alert and responsive to the mediator's questions and the mediation process.  Also, make sure you have eaten appropriately before mediation so that you can focus on the mediation process instead of how hungry you are.
  5. Do make all your remarks and comments to the mediator child focused instead of 'me' focused.  Remember that according to Florida family law, the court's focus is going to be your children and your relationship with them and your ability to co-parent.

Some Key Don'ts of Attending Family and Custody Mediation

  1. Don't refer to the children as 'my' children.  This can be a red flag for the mediator-if you refer to the children as 'my' children you may come across as possessive of the children and you may not be found to be the parent who will foster a relationship between the children and the other parent.  Fostering a relationship between the children and the other parent is one of the many factors considered by the court when establishing a parenting plan.  Do refer to the children as 'our' children. 
  2. Don't talk in terms of wanting 50/50 time-sharing or any percentage of time-sharing. Doing so could raise a red flag to the mediator that your focus is to affect child support, since time-sharing (how much time you spend with the children) is factored into the calculation of child support.
  3. Don't dress like you're going out for a night on the town or like you're going to the beach.  Mediation can be a casual and informal setting, but remember that the mediator may have a difficult time seeing who you really are and not the image you are projecting through the way you dress.