The short answer is, "you should want to, and you may have no choice." Many Florida family courts refer to mediation 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.
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.
There are many benefits to mediating your divorce or family law case. In some cases, mediating your divorce or family law case can result in a full settlement of all issues in your case on mutually agreed terms. In many cases, mediating your divorce or family law case can give both parties an opportunity to discuss important issues and explore alternatives voluntarily and in a confidential setting, even if agreements cannot be reached.
Mediation is voluntary, meaning that you and the other party determine the issues to be discussed and you and the other party have full control over whether an agreement is reached and the terms of any such agreement. Any agreement reached at mediation is voluntary.
Yes, even court ordered mediation is voluntary. Court ordered mediation requires the parties to attend a mediation session, but does not require that the parties reach an agreement or any other predetermined outcome. If you are court ordered to attend mediation, then your appearance at mediation is mandatory.
Mediation is confidential pursuant to the Mediation confidentiality and Privilege Act, sections 44.401 - 44.406 of the Florida Statutes. There are only a few exceptions to the confidentiality rule in mediation. Some of the exceptions include allegations of elder or child abuse or allegations of committing or planning to commit a crime. Another exception to the confidentiality rule in mediation is any agreement reached and signed by the parties in a family law case, unless the parties agree the agreement will be confidential and the law allows for the agreement to be confidential. If you and the other party reach an agreement and the mediator transcribes the agreement and you and the other party sign the agreement; oftentimes, the signed agreement will be filed with the court.
Outside of a few exceptions, mediation is confidential. This means that all mediation discussions and negotiations may not be discussed with any persons outside of mediation, including the judge or friends and significant others. Because mediation is confidential, the parties (and their attorneys if represented) may speak freely about legal and non-legal issues and to consider all options and alternatives, without fear of the judge or others hearing about mediation discussions.
Mediation is a less expensive than attending trial. Even though mediation can in some cases last for hours and cost over $1,000 to $3,000 (depending on the length of the mediation session and on the cost of the mediator and the cost of the attorney if represented); the cost of mediation is still less than the cost of a lengthy trial with exhibits and witnesses.
Additionally, reaching an agreement in mediation is less stressful than attending a trial in your case.
Mediator Chris Fiori offers affordable rates for mediation services. (see More).
Call (813) 333-1660 for a free consultation.
If you and the other party reach an agreement during mediation, then you control the outcome of your case. A mediator does not make decisions or give legal advice. At trial or a final hearing in your case, a judge will make the final decision, and you and the other party will be bound by that decision. There is no way to definitively know what the judge's decision will be. At mediation, you and the other party make the decisions.
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