Absolutely. In my experience, mediation is the best opportunity for clients to resolve their family law disputes themselves. Mediation is a process where the parties use a neutral third party (a mediator) to come to an agreement. The mediator tries to help the two parties settle the case with terms everyone agrees with. A Mediator cannot make a decision or ruling; they are only there to facilitate discussions between the parties. The use of a strong mediator, familiar with family law issues, is an important piece of the puzzle. An attorney who serves as a mediator in a successful mediation can help the parties save thousands down the road.
The single best thing about mediation is that mediation puts you and your ex-spouse-to-be in control of the outcome. The only people making decisions at the mediation are you and your ex. No one can force you to settle or accept terms you do not want. In many cases, that thought alone is freeing. You can make a decision or not. You can choose to settle or not. You can give up something or not. The flip side of the coin is that if you do not settle with you and your ex at mediation, a Judge will make the tough decisions at a trial.
In trial, you will be much more uncomfortable than you were at mediation. At trial, you will be put under oath, in court, before a judge. An attorney may ask you uncomfortable questions for a lengthy period of time. You will spend thousands of dollars to have your attorney prepare for trial. At the end of the trial, a judge, who never met you before, will decide who the children will live with, who gets the house, and whether one of you will receive alimony. Trial can often be a gamble. This is why many attorneys encourage a top notch effort at mediation.
In mediation, you have choices that you may not have in the rest of the divorce case. In mediation, you have choices as to the place, date, time and ground rules, as well as selection of the mediator. You can leave mediation at any time if you are not satisfied with the process. You can also resume the process at a later date. Finally, a large benefit to mediation is that you can create settlements that may not be available in the rest of the divorce case.
In Florida, you will be required to attend Mediation to attempt to resolve the issues before going further into the divorce litigation process.
- If the Mediation is successful in resolving ALL of the issues, then you can go to a short final hearing, where the judge will sign your Final Judgment and you will be officially divorced.
- If the Mediation is successful in resolving SOME of the issues, you can return to the Court. You will most likely attend a Case Management Conference to update the Judge on the status of mediation. The Judge will want to know how many issues remain and how likely is it that the two of you can settle the issues or not. If you are not likely to resolve the issues, the Judge will set the remaining issues for trial.
- If the Mediation is NOT successful in resolving any of the issues, you can return to the Court. You will most likely attend a Case Management Conference to update the Judge on the status of mediation. The Judge will want to know if returning to Mediation will be helpful to the two of you to resolve the issues. If not, the Judge will set a trial.
For more information about choosing the right mediator or what happens if there is no favorable result or settlement, read our blog post, The Art of Mediation here.
To meet with Attorney Kristina Feher to discuss your case or upcoming mediation, contact our office at 727-359-0367 or fill out our contact form here.