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What is Divorce Mediation?

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In family law cases, mediation is a process where the parties receive unbiased opinions and suggestions for settlement from an experienced family law mediator, meaning there is no judge making decisions for them. Pursuant to Florida Statute 44.1011(2)(d), in family matters, the presence of counsel is not required. See Florida Mediation. Spouses that make the decision to go to mediation do so to amicably resolve their differences and avoid lengthy litigation.

The mediation process typically includes the parties, their attorneys, and the mediator. But on occasion, additional professionals may attend the mediation such as an interpreter, a Guardian ad Litem, or a forensic accountant.

As previously stated, the mediator will be neutral. This means that the mediator does not represent either party and therefore does not favor one party over the other. The mediator does not have the role to make decisions like a judge would in the court room, meaning they cannot force a party to agree to anything. Almost any family law issue can be mediated, including but not limited to, child support and all other child issues, spousal support, the division of assets and liabilities, attorney’s fees, and more.

Many Florida courts have ordered parties to attend mediation on their outstanding issues and in some jurisdictions, mediation is mandatory in all divorce actions. See Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Rule 12.710  Most Florida jurisdictions offer the option to have a court staff mediator conduct the mediation. These prices are usually cheaper than independent/private mediators and they offer discounts for indigent spouses. See Application for Determination of Civil Indigent Status

You may be asking, what are the benefits to attending mediation? In fact, there are many including:

Money –Divorces can get lengthy and court appearances and attorney work can rack up a hefty bill. The mediation process is cheaper because your differences will get hashed out quicker and in law, time is money.

Time – In some jurisdictions, Palm Beach County specifically, when trying to set a trial or hearing you will likely be looking at months down the road. This means that your divorce will get dragged out, not including the time that has already passed since your original filing date. However, when it comes to mediation, the mediators usually have the availability to schedule your mediation session in a more timely timeframe.

Having control of the outcome – As previously stated, the mediator does not make any decisions for you, so that puts you in control of the ultimate outcome of your case based upon your negotiation and compromising rather than the judge’s ultimate decision making.

It is important to know that just because you attend mediation, that does not mean you must reach a final agreement then and there. It is common for spouses to attend mediation multiple times and even then, it is common for them to leave with no resolution. Mediation is just a cheaper, quicker, and more controlling way for spouses to reach a resolution.

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