In Florida, married couples seeking divorce are required to have mediation before they can go to court. The purpose of mediation is to carry out divorce dissolution outside of court, as court is typically more complex and costly. Most divorces are successfully resolved in mediation, because the divorcing parties are able to agree on common divorce issues, such as property division, child support, and alimony.
However, if the divorcing parties cannot agree on all issues, then 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.
During the mediation process the standard “rules of evidence” which must be followed in a courtroom setting are not applicable. The parties must, of course, stay within the bounds of the law, but in mediation much greater latitude is given to parties to aid in their efforts at 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 have the opportunity to discuss openly their positions along with their feelings in an attempt to come to a settlement. Both parties recognize that if they are unable to reach a resolution of their issues, then neither party can later testify regarding those communications/negotiations. Another perk is that mediation also tends to be quicker and less expensive than litigation.
It takes a skilled mediator to separate the legal issues from the emotional ones. A mediator who is also a family law attorney can appropriately address timesharing, child support, alimony, equitable distribution and other financial issues all in the same proceeding.