Mediation is sometimes court-ordered during a divorce, but the parties at any time can voluntarily choose mediation to resolve parenting and timesharing, equitable distribution or other contested issues in their Florida divorce. It’s almost always better to create a resolution by working together rather than have a result imposed by the courts, but getting to a mutual agreement might not be possible on your own. Let’s face it; you and your spouse are divorcing for a reason, and the relationship might not be in the best shape for open communication and cooperation. Mediation offers the opportunity to communicate and cooperate in a well-defined structure with the assistance of a trained facilitator. Caroline Olson is an experienced mediator in Palm Beach County who knows how mediation works and can guide you to a successful mediated result.
How does mediation work?
A mediation is a meeting of the interested parties, led by a trained mediator who establishes the ground rules and facilitates collaborative discussions between the parties. There is no one way to conduct a mediation, and the mediator will adapt the style and structure of the mediation to the circumstances. Sometimes the parties are together in the same room speaking directly to the mediator or each other, while other times they might caucus in separate rooms with their attorneys while the mediator shuffles between rooms, seeking areas of agreement.
Florida family law mediators are often experienced divorce attorneys who know the law and how the courts are likely to rule on a given issue. While the mediator does not advise either party on the law, the mediator could explain what the law says about a particular issue or what is customarily done in similar situations. More importantly, the mediator will help the parties brainstorm and explore options so they can create effective solutions to their problems. The mediator helps the parties shift their focus from concrete positions to the interests behind those positions, opening up areas of common ground and possible agreement.
After a successful mediation, the parties will have a written settlement agreement they can sign and submit to the court for approval. If the mediation doesn’t result in agreement, the parties can still go to court and litigate their case. Even if the case wasn’t resolved in mediation, the parties likely have eliminated or narrowed some of the issues and have a better understanding of their areas of disagreement.
Why use mediation?
Mediation might not be right in every contested divorce or child custody dispute. The parties need to be willing to try mediation and commit to its success. Some issues might also be too lengthy or complex to adequately deal with in mediation. That said, mediation can offer numerous benefits over traditional courtroom litigation.
- Mediation is resolved much faster than litigation. It can take months or more than a year just to get a court date, but mediation can be scheduled almost immediately.
- Since mediation takes less time, it costs less. The attorneys don’t have to bill as many hours or spend the time taking (and paying for) depositions, hiring forensic experts, making motions, etc.
- Mediation occurs in a less formal setting than court. The rules of evidence are relaxed, allowing the parties to have more open and fruitful discussions geared toward getting results, not just scoring points.
- Mediation is non-adversarial and nonconfrontational. Parties can leave a divorce trial embittered against their former spouse. With mediation, they can exit the process with a respectful working relationship, which is especially important if they share children.
- A mediated result is more likely to be voluntarily implemented. When a decision is imposed on the parties by a judge, they might be inclined to continue the battle in court for years after the divorce. When they put their own time and energy into creating the result, they have investment and ownership and want to see it succeed.
When is mediation required?
According to Florida Statutes section 44.102, if a court finds the parties in dispute over custody, visitation or other parental responsibility issues, it shall refer them to mediation, unless there is a history of domestic violence that would compromise the process. This court-ordered mediation applies to any judicial circuit that has a family mediation program in place. The 15th Judicial Circuit covering Palm Beach County does have such a program.
Experienced Palm Beach Mediator to Guide You Through Mediation in Your Jupiter Divorce
Call Caroline Olson, P.A., at 561-288-0548 to discuss the prospect of mediation for your divorce, separation, child custody dispute or other family law matter. We maintain offices in Jupiter and Boca Raton, serving clients across Palm Beach County.