Using mediation in a Florida divorce
Many Floridians expect that the process of obtaining a divorce means hours and days spent arguing with the other spouse about child custody, child support, alimony and asset division. While such arguments frequently occur, Florida lawyers and the courts have devised a process for resolving the issues in a divorce without the chronic anger that most people expect. The process is called “mediation,” and an understanding of the process may help alleviate the anxiety that can cripple a person’s ability to make reasonable decisions during their divorce.
The basics of mediation
Mediation uses a neutral third party—the mediator—to hear the concerns of the parties, give them a chance to air their feelings and help them reach a reasonable compromise on the issues that require resolution.
Florida mediators are usually retired judges or attorneys who have taken mediation training. This training stresses techniques for hearing a party’s concerns without taking sides. In other words, mediation gives both parties the opportunity to express themselves to a neutral third party. Instead of making a decision in favor of one party or the other, the mediator will suggest compromise solutions that do not favor either party but may end their disagreement.
Other advantages of mediation
The mediation process is confidential; the mediator cannot be compelled to testify in court about what happened during the mediation. For wealthy couples, this guaranty of confidentiality ensures that their assets will not become part of the public record, as would happen during a trial in open court. Whether any agreement results from the mediation is entirely up to the parties (and their attorneys). A mediation agreement is not final unless it is approved by both parties. Comments from the mediator may help one or both parties to see their position in a different light and in a way that leads to compromise, not further disagreement.
The mediation agreement is a contract that can be enforced in court after the divorce has become final.
Mediation can save each party a significant sum of money for attorneys’ fees, court costs and potential expert witness fees.
Experienced legal advice
Most experienced divorce attorneys have participated in more than one mediation. Consequently, their knowledge can provide valuable assistance to their clients in understanding the benefits of mediation.