Using Mediation in Divorce disputes in Florida is a welcomed alternative to litigation for many divorcing couples.  Florida has recently enacted the Collaborative Law Process Act which deals with Collaborative Divorces. This law gave legitimacy to settling divorce proceedings, including paternity, custody and other family matters, outside of court. Mutual agreements have long been been popular in Florida. However, the ability for parties to formally enter an agreement in order to resolve disputes rather than “win” issues in court is new. This leads to the question, what is the best way to enter into these agreements?  Also, are there alternatives which may improve the chances of successfully resolving issues in a family law dispute? 

Using Mediation in Divorce disputes in Florida

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that takes place between the parties and a mediator. The mediator acts as a neutral third party who facilitates the discussion and guides the case to a successful resolution. Mediation is not arbitration.  The mediator has no legal or actual authority to make a decision. Rather, you are the decision maker. However, particularly in a family law dispute, there can be tense moments and a breakdown in communication with the opposite person.  As such, there are benefits to using mediation in divorce disputes.  A mediator can listen to your concerns and those of the the other party, and come to a resolution where there is a “win-win.”

A mediation session is confidential and there is an opportunity to come to a tailor-made solution. Litigation is usually a “win-lose” scenario. With such issues as child custody, support, and division of assets, it is advisable to reach a cooperative agreement for the benefit of all involved.  A mediator will usually listen to each person and understand the concerns and interests of each party. This allows the mediator to overcome obstacles in communication and keep you focused on the issues at hand.  If you are “stuck,” mediation offers an opportunity to restart the conversation in a different light.

Benefits and Concerns of Using Mediation in Divorce Disputes

Many people have concerns about mediation. However, you are not alone! An attorney will advise you through the entire process. If you feel that mediation is not the best course of action, you may end it at any time. Mediation can lead to lower costs and the resolution of most issues, thereby litigating only a few. As previously stated, you are the decision maker in a mediation. A tailored solution for you actually can be far more beneficial because you are not relying on a judge to make decisions. By controlling the process, having a communication facilitator, and a neutral party, mediation may be right for you.

Furthermore, if children are involved, it can be beneficial to cooperate and “work through” issues, even if there are serious disagreements. This is a much better solution to “fighting” in court. Additionally, mediation can actually lead to an understanding of why the dispute arose in the first place. This understanding can provide a foundation, communication framework, and a desire to resolve the issue(s) more amicably. A successful mediation leads to a legally enforceable, binding contract. This contract can vary to the needs of the parties, rather than a single judge’s order.

How do I begin?

Attorney Natalie D. Hall would be happy to discuss using mediation as part of resolving your divorce disputes. Mediation has many benefits and may just be the answer to resolving a difficult domestic issue. Contact us today for a consultation.