Mediation Of Your Florida Divorce Case

Most Florida divorce cases will be resolved at mediation. Usually, the parties will go to mediation after a significant discovery. The parties have a fairly informed understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of both their own case and their spouse’s case. The mediator acts as a neutral third party. They are not there to decide any issues but rather to discuss potential resolutions and transmit offers and information between the parties to try and reach a mutual resolution of the case.

Mediation proceedings remain confidential and involve both parties, their attorneys, and a qualified mediator. This is a voluntary, consensual, and informal process used to resolve the conflict between the participating parties. Mediation facilitates communication between the parties to help them come to reach a mutually acceptable agreement on how to resolve the dispute. If the parties come to a full or partial agreement, the agreement will be reduced to writing. If the parties come to a full settlement, it is memorialized in a Marital Settlement Agreement which will record the parties’ agreement on child custody/time-sharing, child support, equitable distribution, and alimony.

Family law mediation is required in all Florida divorce cases prior to going to trial. Mediation can be an excellent alternative to a trial because it is less expensive, and the parties have greater control over the process.

If an agreement is reached at mediation, a Marital Settlement Agreement will be prepared, and this agreement will then be incorporated into the Final Judgment of Divorce. However, if an agreement is not reached, an impasse will be declared, and the matter will be referred to the court to set a trial date.

Oftentimes, parties seek the guidance of a divorce attorney between mediation sessions. An experienced divorce mediation attorney with Vazquez & Stockmar, PLLC can provide crucial legal guidance amidst mediation. Contact our family law firm today to request a free consultation!

Mediation Is Confidential

Everything disclosed at mediation is confidential and will not be disclosed to the court except for the following.

  • A report to the court that an impasse was reached on all issues and the case will then proceed to trial
  • A report to the court that the parties reached a written agreement on some issues and those have been reduced to a written agreement, but certain other issues remain for the Court to decide. For example, the parties could agree on child custody/time-sharing and child support but leave the equitable distribution of their property and any alimony awards for the court to determine
  • A report to the court accompanied by a Complete Marital Settlement Agreement that the parties have reached an agreement on all outstanding issues and a motion for the court to enter a final judgment incorporating the Parties Marital Settlement Agreement into the final judgment.

The mediator cannot make any report to the court, nor can the parties discuss any offers or statements made at the mediation if settlement is not reached. The exception is if a party has disclosed an intent to harm a party or child or otherwise endanger other persons.

The mediator will not report any offers, counteroffers, settlements, or statements whatsoever to the judge or court. The mediator likewise cannot be called as a witness. This high level of confidentiality allows the parties to freely discuss their positions and settlement without fear that the court will know what offers or concessions they may have been willing to accept if a settlement is not reached.

How Does A Mediation Proceed?

The divorce attorneys will agree on a time and place for the mediation. It can be at either of the attorney’s offices; however, many clients are uncomfortable with mediation being conducted in the opposing counsel’s office and require a neutral site, usually the mediator’s office or other available space. The mediation will begin with the mediator discussing the ground rules of the mediation with the parties and going over their particular process.

Initially, the parties, accompanied by their divorce lawyers, may meet in one room with their spouse and the mediator to go over the ground rules and perhaps give an opening statement with all present. The parties will often start with both attorneys and their clients in separate rooms, and the mediator will go back and forth to discuss the issues.

There are excellent mediators in the Orange, Seminole, and Volusia Counties area who are skilled at moving even seemingly impossible cases to resolution.

Parties need to be prepared and understand that when the mediator is with their client, it may seem as if the mediator is working for the other party; however, the mediator is making the attorney and client look at their spouse’s case strengths and weaknesses. This process of education, evaluation, and persuasion allows parties to make an informed decision on the prosecution or settlement of their case.

Vazquez & Stockmar, PLLC is a law firm serving Central Florida. Our attorneys offer dependable services in several legal disciplines, including probate, estate planning, and family law. Get in touch with us today to request a free consultation!