The classic lawyer answer: It depends. Your mediation will last as long as it takes to get through the issues, come to a breaking point, or time runs out.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process where the spouses 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. 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. In my experience, mediation is the best opportunity for clients to resolve their family law disputes themselves.
How do I know what our issues are?
In Florida, the courts are going to use the acronym PEACE as the possible issues in your case:
- P – Parenting Plan – This is how you and the other parent will divide your time with your children. If you do not have children with the other spouse, this will not be an issue that your case needs to deal with.
- E – Equitable Distribution – This is how you and the other spouse will divide your stuff and your debt. If you have already divided your furniture, bank accounts, cars, etc., this will not be an issue that your case needs to deal with.
- A – Alimony – This is where you and your spouse will discuss who is eligible to receive alimony, different kinds of alimony, who should pay alimony, and how much should be paid. If you or your spouse do not want alimony, this will not be an issue that your case needs to deal with.
- C – Child Support – This is a mathematical calculation that a mediator can provide based upon how many overnights each parent has with their child. If you do not have children with the other spouse, this will not be an issue that your case needs to deal with.
- E – Everything else – This is a catch-all category where the court can address any other issues the spouses have. Most commonly, in this category, we would discuss name changes back to maiden names for the spouses.
So how long will a divorce mediation typically last?
- As long as it takes to get through the issues – If your case involves all 5 of these things, your mediation may need a full half day (4 hours). If you do not have children, you can expect your mediation to take approximately 2 hours.
- Come to a breaking point – Mediation can also be very emotional for spouses. It is possible that an offer from one spouse to another brings anger, resentment, or rage and the other spouse shuts down. For this reason, a breaking point can end a mediation. If one spouse is not prepared to resolve the matters on the day of mediation, a breaking point can come at any time. For this reason, it is important to get a good night’s rest before your mediation and come with an open mind. Be understanding that divorce is difficult on everyone involved and your attempt at mediation is to see if there is some middle ground.
- Time runs out – When people who are not represented by attorneys schedule a mediation through a Court mediation program, mediations are often scheduled for a two-hour or three-hour mediation, depending on your Court. Because of how Court mediations are scheduled, or based on the mediator’s schedule, sometimes there is just not a option to continue mediation if your time is up. For these reasons, it is important to come to mediation prepared, understanding your issues, and with an open mind to any and all possible resolutions.
Feher Law provides limited representation for individuals going into mediation who would like to discuss their situation with an attorney and/or have an attorney with them to represent them at the mediation. This limited representation is on a flat-fee basis can be very helpful for individuals seeking reasonable fees and options as they go through a divorce. If you have an upcoming mediation, are considering divorce, or you want to explore your options, please contact Feher Law to schedule a consultation at 727-359-0367 or Kfeher@FeherLaw.com.