Mediation is a process of solving disputes with the guidance of a third party: a mediator. This method is the best and surest way couples can handle any disputes that they are having problems resolving. Mediation is preferable for families with children as this process attempts to accommodate each family’s individual needs and keeps kids from feeling like they have to choose sides. Couples may opt for mediation or it may be court ordered.
If an agreement is reached at the end of the mediation, the mediator prepares a written Settlement Agreement that is signed by both parties. That agreement is presented to the judge assigned to the case and a Final Judgment can then be entered.
With divorce cases in Florida, most, if not all, parties will go to mediation. Mediation can happen before filing for a divorce or during the litigation process in anticipation of the final hearing or trial. Parties can opt to participate in mediation before filing a lawsuit. If a full resolution is reached, then the agreement can be presented to the court and a Final Judgment entered without going through a costly and long litigation process.
Mediation is confidential, unlike court proceedings, which are part of the public record. With mediation, nothing is permitted to be repeated outside of the involved parties and their lawyers, unless, of course an agreement is reached. Once the agreement is complete, it is filed with the court and made part of a court record. Mediation typically helps resolve a conflict sooner rather than later and each party is given more control over the outcome of their settlement.
A Florida Supreme Court certified mediator will lead the mediation. Mediators must adhere to strict rules and regulations that require them to:
- Remain neutral and never become biased toward either party
- Never force either party into an agreement
- Always work for the mutual good of both parties
Mediation is cost effective and often preferred by couples looking to not stretch their wallets. The cost of mediation is divided equally between the parties (unless otherwise ordered by the judge or agreed upon by the parties).