Mediation is one of the ways to settle your dissolution of marriage outside of court. In mediation, an impartial and neutral third party (the “mediator”) assists both parties in reaching a mutually acceptable settlement. A mediator has no authoritative decision-making power, but rather assists the parties in voluntarily reaching a settlement.
The main benefits of mediation are a non-adversarial setting, discretion, and confidentiality. This is because mediation is private, whereas court proceedings are public. Anything said or put in writing during mediation negotiations is strictly confidential, barred from later use in court. Mediation also generally costs much less than proceeding in court. Another important advantage is that both of the parties have a say and control over the results. In other words, both parties are responsible for forming the final decision, as opposed to a trial where the judge tells the parties what is going to happen.
The entire mediation process is completely voluntary. The mediator does not have the ability to rule on any issues or to make any kind of final determination.
Divorce mediation requires voluntary participation of both husband and wife and is designed for couples that may or may not already agree on some matters and who want professional help to make informed decisions about other important issues and concerns. The purpose of mediation is for both husband and wife to come to a mutually acceptable settlement. It is important to remember that the mediator is neutral. He or she does no individual counseling, and his or her role is limited to gathering data, clarifying issues, and offering alternative solutions.
“Pre-filing Mediation” is another option to consider. This process involves utilizing mediation prior to filing your dissolution of marriage. By doing so, you may be able to fully settle all of the issues applicable to your marriage and thereby avoid a contested divorce. Even if you are unable to settle all of the issues concerning your divorce you may be able to partially settle and thus a partial agreement can be entered into. This should prevent a lot of expense and animosity, which a contested dissolution by its nature generates.
Mediation is recommended for divorces which involve issues about separating assets and debts such as houses, retirement accounts, business interests, credit card or loan balances, determining the amounts of spousal maintenance and/or child support, and resolving key co-parenting considerations.
In order for a mediation agreement to be legally binding, agreements must be recognized by a court or incorporated into a court order.
Mediation will not work every time, but it does work a large percentage of the time. Ms. Bunnell is certified by the Florida Supreme Court as a Family Law Mediator and can assist you with pre-filing mediation of the disputes which you have not been successful in resolving during your divorce proceeding.
For more information about how we can help you with your mediation, please contact our office.