We now offer Virtual Mediations using Enhanced Video Conferencing
There are several critical differences between family law mediation and settlement meetings. A family law mediator facilitates face-to-face meetings with the clients without their lawyers. This process can benefit people who are thinking about divorce but aren’t interested in going to an attorney. Settlement meetings occur in a neutral location, and the clients never meet since the lawyers talk to their clients and then with each other.
In Florida, married couples seeking divorce must attend mediation before going to court. The purpose of mediation is to resolve divorce dissolution issues outside of court, as the court is typically more complex and costly. Most divorces can be successfully resolved in mediation because the divorcing parties ultimately agree on common divorce issues, such as property division, child support, and alimony.
However, if the divorcing parties cannot agree on all issues, the court is the next phase of the divorce process. Because the progression of a divorce from mediation to court can often come with contention, it is essential for divorcing parties to have experienced negotiators on each side.
The standard “rules of evidence” that must be followed in a courtroom setting are not applicable during the mediation process. Of course, the parties must stay within the bounds of the law, but in mediation, much greater latitude is given to parties to aid in finding resolutions outside the courtroom. It is the one arena in which the parties have the opportunity to come together to craft the future of their own lives.
All communications are kept confidential; the mediation process provides a forum in which the parties can openly discuss their positions and feelings to come to a settlement. Both parties recognize that if they cannot resolve their issues, neither party can later testify regarding those communications/negotiations. Another perk is that mediation also tends to be quicker and less expensive than litigation.
If children are in the relationship, both parents need to develop healthy channels of communication. They will need to lay the groundwork for discussing issues such as education, health, birthdays, and values. Even after their children are grown, there will be events that require contact between the two parties, such as funerals, weddings, and graduations. Their Parenting Plan, which will become a part of the parties’ Final Judgment will address and resolve these issues.
If parents can cooperate, it will reduce the amount of stress that they encounter during their divorce. It will also make it easier for their children to cope. Divorce is ranked as one of life’s most stressful events and can cause a lot of grief. A family law mediator can assist with dissolving the relationship to reduce anxiety for everyone involved.
In many parts of the United States, divorce mediation is an option that both parties may or may not consider. However, in Florida, divorce mediation is almost always required. If you have decided that divorce is the best way forward, you will generally have to attend mediation before going to court. Experienced negotiators try to help couples resolve as many issues as possible before they head to court. However, if that’s not possible, they reduce the contention level usually associated with the court process.
Couples usually don’t get to the stage where they want a divorce in a matter of days or weeks. It often takes months or years of hurt, old wounds that keep being opened up again with every harsh word or thoughtless action, and continual neglect. By the time a couple decides to separate, a high mistrust level usually exists in the relationship, and everyone is on guard, even the children.
An experienced South Florida family mediator can empower both individuals to speak honestly and openly about their concerns. Instead of avoiding asking questions or expressing their wants because they fear rejection or being lied to, they can assess and speak about their goals in a supportive environment, with a mediator present. In this way, trained mediators facilitate a level of reconciliation and understanding.
Contact Ann Goade with any questions you may have.
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