Mediation is a process whereby both parties attempt to reach a mutual agreement of the issues by using the services of a neutral third party (mediator).
A lot of clients prefer mediation as it is an informal process, with the objective of helping the disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement. If the parties agree to settle at mediation the mediator prepares a written settlement agreement that is signed by both parties. That agreement can then be presented to the judge assigned to the case so that a Final Judgment, in strict accordance with the settlement agreement, can then be entered.
Advantages of mediation
- Less adversarial and therefore less damaging emotionally than litigation;
- The parties are in control, rather than the government;
- Parties can be more creative while the judge is limited by statutory guidelines, rules of evidence and case law;
- Agreements can be tailored to the unique needs of the family members;
- The parties are more likely to comply with a mediation agreement;
- Mediation is confidential;
- Parties have the opportunity to preserve, transform and improve their relationship;
- When successful, mediation saves time and money;
- You can pick your mediator, but you cannot pick your judge; and
- The mediator has more time to devote to the issues than the judge, so the mediator can listen to the parties’ stories.
The nonadversarial nature of mediation is especially important in cases involving parental responsibility and timesharing. Adversarial litigation typically drives parents further apart at a time their children need them to work together and restructure their system of parenting.
There are advantages to mediation even when the case is not resolved. During mediation, the parties learn the other side’s goals and what he or she needs to attain those goals, get to evaluate the strengths and weakness of the other partys’ positions, stipulate to facts, narrow issues, or make a temporary or partial settlement.
Can a mediator force a party to agree to anything?
Is mediation required in divorce or modification cases?
YES…unless an agreement is reached prior to an evidentiary hearing on temporary or final issues. The Florida Rules of Family Law Procedure require the parties to go to mediation before temporary relief can be granted and before a final hearing (trial) can be held. The judge has the power to waive the mediation requirements, but is generally reluctant to do so unless there are special or unusual circumstances. Both parties must agree for there to be a successful mediation agreement. Sometimes mediation wastes time and money because of the antagonistic attitude of one of the parties. Elaine M. Simon believes her clients can be assured that if the case is capable of being settled, she will set an atmosphere where an agreement can possibly be reached.
Prior to mediation, you will meet with Elaine M. Simon to discuss the mediation process and what to expect during the mediation. At the meeting, you will go over the various strengths and weaknesses of the case, the outstanding issues and she will discuss with you the best strategy to obtain an agreement that benefits you and your interests. It is also important that you understand and anticipate your spouse’s positions on issues important to you and develop with your attorney a strategy and approach to your negotiations, prior to your mediation.