What Is Mediation?
Mediation is essentially a meeting where both parties sit down with a mediator, who is a neutral third party. The goal of mediation is to resolve the dispute, so the best outcome of a mediation would be to reach an agreement that both parties are comfortable with, resulting in a settlement. Usually this process includes determining the goals of each party and coming up with the best solution to give each party what they want.
I Know We Don’t Get Along And We Can’t Resolve This Ourselves. That’s Why I Hired An Attorney. Can’t I Just Go To Trial?
Typically no. The family law court usually requires that you go to mediation prior to appearing before the court and at the very least, before setting a date for a final trial. This is particularly true in Palm Beach County. The good news is that you don’t have to try to work through your issues on your own. The mediator is there to help negotiate and you can bring your attorney who is there to help you!
When Is Mediation An Option For Me?
You can schedule a mediation before filing a petition if you choose, although most people file first and then use mediation as a secondary step to avoid trial. Mediation at an early stage can help save a lot of money in legal fees.
How Do I Set Up A Mediation?
Mediation is typically scheduled by your attorney, who has useful contacts with mediators that they have used in the past and know are helpful in pursuing peaceful negotiations. However you can find a mediator on your own, but it is best to be represented by your attorney whenever you are deciding on a legally binding agreement.
Is What Goes On At Mediation Final?
If you reach a settlement agreement at your mediation, that is a final contract between you and the other party. It is filed with the courts and is enforceable. You must adhere to this agreement, just as the other party must adhere to this agreement. You can however seek to modify your agreement in the future, just as you might after a settlement at trial. This type of modification would be appropriate if you have a change of circumstances, like a significant, permanent change in salary, or if a parent is relocating in the case of child custody agreement.
How Is A Mediator Qualified?
Family law mediators must be certified through the Supreme Court of Florida. Most mediators are experienced attorneys or have advanced degrees in psychology. To become a certified mediator, a qualified individual takes a certification course approved by the court system and then completes an application and mentoring hours. It is not the same as sitting down with a friend and coming up with a plan. This person knows what they’re doing and they have helped others like you before. They also have more time to individually get to hear both sides of the story and to understand your case, a luxury that most judges don’t have.
What Kinds Of Cases Usually Go To Mediation?
Basically every type of case that is involved in a family law court goes to mediation. This can include dissolution of marriage, child related matters including time-sharing and child support agreements, partition actions, alimony, etc. Mediation is used in other matters that are not family law related as well, but family law mediators are certified specifically to handle family law matters.
Can The Mediator Make The Decisions?
No. The mediator is there to assist the parties in reaching decisions. They do not unilaterally decide anything. They do not make rulings or create binding agreements and they do not decide who “wins” at mediation.
My Case Is Very Complicated And I’m Worried That My Mediator Won’t Be Able To Handle These Issues?
The reality is that every case is different. Your mediator may not have handled a case that is exactly like yours, but is trained in dispute resolution, regardless of the complexity of the case. The more complicated the case and the more issues that need to be agreed upon can mean a longer time spent at your mediation, but this is not always the case. Some individuals can’t find common ground on simple issues and their mediation may take longer than one with complicated facts but more agreeable parties. Mediators are used to looking at each case individually. It is best to have your attorney with you to make sure that everything that needs to be resolved in your case is resolved at mediation.
My Relationship Ended Because My Spouse Was Abusive. I Don’t Want Him/Her To Bully Me At Mediation, And I Don’t Want To Be In The Same Room With Them Ever Again.
There are some special circumstances where mediation may not work for you. Talk to your attorney about your options. If you have someone pressuring you to agree who has abused you in the past, you can seek legal protection from that person. Sometimes this includes a restraining order or injunction, but your attorney is the best person to help you.
What Is The Timeline For An Agreement Made At Mediation?
An agreement made at mediation can be operation very quickly. There is no need to wait for additional hearings and steps before the judge. Family court systems are often quite busy, so you may have to wait a considerable length of time for appointments before the court. Mediation is typically a lot more flexible.
Can I Go To Mediation Without An Attorney?
You can go to mediation without an attorney, but you are risking important rights that you may have by making a legal agreement without representation of counsel. Even if you agree to the terms, if you are not an attorney yourself, you may be walking away from things that are due to you. Your attorney can protect you and help you devise an agreement that is in YOUR best interest and the best interest of your family. If you choose to go this route, at the very least have your attorney review your agreement before you sign it! You hired an attorney to fight for you, don’t take away their weapons.
For more information on Mediation In FL, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (561) 893-9993 today.
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