Mediation as an alternative to litigation can be a useful and cost-effective tool to resolve certain issues in a family law proceeding so long as the mediator is effective and (i) you have done your homework; (ii) you know the true state of financial affairs; and (iii) you understand your legal rights.
Mediation, if successful, allows parties to control the outcome of the legal process by means of compromise without incurring further litigation costs and without risking an unfavorable ruling by the family court judge.
The Role of the Mediator
Mediators do not make decisions for the parties. A mediator is a neutral intermediary who facilitates the voluntary resolution of issues between adversaries. There is no requirement to reach any agreement in the mediation process.
An effective mediator helps the parties find common ground; focuses the discussion on key issues; and makes practical suggestions for useful compromise.
During a mediation, the parties are placed in separate rooms and the mediator shuttles back and forth delivering messages and helping the parties narrow the issues until a final written agreement can be reached.
Florida family courts require parties to mediate before coming to court to litigate their divorce or family law case. Properly done, mediation can avoid the high costs and prolonged delays of the litigation process. Mediation also allows parties to control the outcome of the divorce proceeding and manage potential downside risks. Often, the mediation process affords the parties a better opportunity than litigation to communicate meaningfully about their issues and genuinely commit to a workable framework for post-dissolution relations.