What is Mediation in Florida Family Law Cases?
Mediation is a process that helps all parties to a family law dispute receive unbiased opinions and suggestions for settlement from an experienced family law mediator in an attempt to amicably resolve their differences and avoid contested litigation. Florida mediation cases are a form of conflict management and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and are especially useful mechanisms in the highly emotional areas involving divorce and children.In Miami-Dade County, an administrative rule from the Family Court requires mandatory mediation before a Dade County Family Court judge will issue a trial date for disputed family law issues. Most Miami family law mediation cases therefore arise after one party has filed a family court legal action. Because family court litigation has commenced, the Florida family law statutes require both parties to comply with mandatory disclosure of income and assets and the filing of Financial Affidavits and other legal papers.
What are the benefits of using a Miami divorce mediator?
There are many benefits to FL divorce and family law mediation including:
- Cost – Typically the mediation process yields a financial savings to the family law clients over the cost of traditional divorce and family law litigation. Most family law parties choose to be represented by a family law attorney during the mediation process. However, some parties are unable to afford private counsel and elect to proceed with mediation without an attorney. The costs for the family law mediation process are generally cheaper than the traditional litigation process even when both parties have independent mediation and divorce attorneys.
- Time – Private Family Law Mediators are generally able to schedule mediation sessions around the parties’ schedules and in a prompt timeframe. Some family law mediators will even work evenings and weekends! Contrast this to court mediation programs or a Family Court trial that is generally scheduled months down the road and around the judge’s or court ordered mediator’s work schedule and hours. Private family law mediation provides the opportunity for a much quicker resolution of Florida family law issues.
- Control of outcome – Family law mediation allows the spouses, former spouses, or parents to control the ultimate outcome of their family law issues based upon negotiation and compromise instead of the imposition of an order by a judge who may have only a limited knowledge of your personal situation. Mediators for divorce are there to assist the parties in resolving their dispute and to guide the parties regarding how to mediate their case. Unlike the arbitration process where the arbitors decide the outcome of the case, Florida mediation laws prevent the Florida mediators from deciding the outcome of mediated cases.
- Unbiased experts – In a complex case involving high income, high assets, or complex support cases due to self-employment or otherwise, the parties generally each retain their own team of experts – forensic accountants, financial planners, vocational experts, real estate appraisers and actuaries. In the mediation process, the parties agree on or permit the mediator to select the team of necessary experts and avoid the duplication of cost and uncertain outcome from the battling experts.
- Future contact – When family law clients have children, it is inevitable that they will have contact with each other in the future. Most people agree that if the parties are able to come to an agreement regarding their family law issues, they are more likely to be able to have a working relationship in the future that will be beneficial to the children. Neither party feels that they were cheated in a mediated settlement agreement so they are less likely to harbor ill feelings towards the other parent in the future.
- Discretion – The mediation process is conducted in a private law office with complete discretion for the family law clients. Our Miami family law mediation clients are not exposed to the glare of a hearing in a public courthouse where, in most circumstances, any person is free to witness the parties’ court hearings.
- Confidentiality – Miami family law mediators will keep all personal information learned during the mediation process as well as all mediated communications confidential and will not divulge information learned to the court or any other person unrelated to the mediation process.
- Private conference rooms – The mediation process allows those divorcing spouses who prefer to remain in separate conference rooms while the negotiations are underway to do so. Contrast this to a contested trial where the parties are forced to remain in the same room and hear each other’s testimony.
- Settle today, sign today – If an agreement is reached during mediation, the mediator and the attorneys will draft a Mediated Marriage Settlement Agreement for the parties to immediately sign. Most mediation services provide typing services for the mediating parties.
- Mediating post-judgment disputes – Florida family law mediators may be able to assist mediation clients with issues that arise after a final judgment is entered by the court. Sometimes minor issues involving the time-sharing parenting plan may arise or one of the parties may believe that the support or custody terms should be modified. Florida mediators are available to assist family law parties with post-judgment disputes.
- Court process available for unresolved issues – The goal of family law mediators is to amicably resolve all family law issues between the parties including any issues of divorce, property distribution, paternity, child support, spousal support and alimony, child custody, and related issues. In the event that some, but not all issues are resolved, the parties are free to continue with a contested family court case with regard to the unresolved issues.
Contact our Dade County & Miami Family Law Mediators
Attorney Lisa Marie Vari is an experienced South Florida Family Law Mediator. Our Miami family law mediator and mediation attorneys are available to assist clients with mediating any family law issue including equitable distribution, child support, spousal support and alimony, child custody time-sharing agreements and related issues.
Contact our Miami family law mediation lawyers at 305-222-7351, or e-mail us to schedule an appointment for your Dade County, Broward County, or Monroe County family law mediation issue.
Consultations are available in person in Miami and at several meeting locations throughout Dade and Broward Counties including Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, Galiano Street in Coral Gables, West Country Club Drive in Aventura and Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood. Appointments are also available by telephone and via Skype internet video chat.
Want to Learn More?
If you would like more information on family law topics, read the topics in our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).