What is mediation and how does it work in Florida?
Mediation is a method of alternative dispute resolution. This simply means that mediation is a way to resolve cases without going to trial in front of a judge. There are several formal procedures to accomplish this goal, but mediation is the most common. It is also the only one that is required in almost all Florida divorce cases.
Why is that? Well, for one thing, mediation offers several clear advantages over traditional litigation. First, trials are expensive. Mediation saves both parties money by limiting the amount of time they have to spend arguing over issues in court.
Second, trials are notoriously unpredictable. Divorce attorneys do their best to minimize that unpredictability by conducting discovery and through extensive trial preparation. And we usually have a pretty good idea what will happen based on the law and the facts of a particular case. But, at the end of the day, no one can say for certain what a judge will decide. Mediation allows the parties to maintain more control over the outcome of their case.
Finally, mediation is generally faster. All things being equal, it takes much less time for a mediated settlement agreement to be approved than it takes for a traditional case to make its way through the court system.
So, how does mediation work?
The goal of mediation is to allow the parties to resolve their disputes with the assistance of a neutral third-party called a mediator. The mediator can be a lawyer or a former judge, but can also be a professional from almost any walk of life as long as he or she has been trained and certified in family court mediation techniques.
In most cases, the parties sit in separate rooms, along with their lawyers, while the mediator goes back and forth between them to convey proposals and counter-proposals to settle the case. Reaching an agreement is not always easy for the parties to do, but a good mediator can usually suggest reasonable compromises that may not have occurred to them before. But mediators are not allowed to give legal advice. That’s why it’s important to have a knowledgeable and experienced Pembroke Pines mediation attorney at your side to ensure that any settlement is fair, protects your rights, and is in your best interests before you sign.
One last thing to keep in mind is that mediation is confidential. That means both parties are generally encouraged to be as open and as straightforward as they need to be to reach an agreement. For the most part, nothing that either party proposes at mediation can be used against him or her in court.
Mediation can be an extremely effective way to resolve disputes between parties in a divorce or family law case. Mediated settlement agreements can be either complete or partial. Either way, mediation can save both parties a great deal of time and money over traditional litigation. If you have a mediation scheduled or simply have more questions about the process, contact Pembroke Pines mediation attorney Andrew Foster to schedule your initial consultation today.
The Law Offices of S. Andrew Foster represents clients throughout South Florida including Aventura, Cooper City, Coral Springs, Davie, Doral, Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach, Hialeah, Hollywood, Kendall, Miami, Miami Lakes, Miramar, North Miami, Parkland, Pembroke Pines, Plantation, Sunrise, Tamarac, and Weston.