Understanding Divorce Mediation in Orlando
Those facing a divorce in central Florida have several options for ending their marriages. They can fight in court and go to trial – an expensive and emotionally exhausting prospect for sure. They can also opt to sit down and resolve the matter out of court between themselves. This type of uncontested divorce is usually the most cost-effective and peaceful way to end the marriage. However, if the parties cannot agree peacefully among themselves, the case will proceed. Still, there is one other step that the court will require – mediation.
What is mediation?
Although mediation sounds better than going to trial, it is still adversarial. This means the parties are definitely opposed and disagree on at least some of the issues. The parties and their attorneys appear before a person called a mediator. Unlike Court, mediation leaves the parties with decision-making authority. A mediator, unlike a judge, can only attempt to help the parties resolve their case without going to trial. He or she is trained to facilitate resolution, but keeps the negotiations confidential. A signed agreement is binding, just like a judge’s order.
There are two striking differences between a mediation and a trial: (1) mediations are private and confidential, unlike the public nature of trials; and (2) there is no lengthy process of preparing for a trial, which can last many months or even years, in some cases. Family law Mediators are experienced attorneys, mental health workers or accounting professionals who have undergone extensive training and continuing education in order to serve the court in this type of proceeding.
Do I have to use mediation?
Yes and no. Divorce mediation is mandatory in Florida. The law recognizes that it is in everyone’s best interests to help couples come to a workable solution without trials and expensive, painful litigation. But as already stated, this does not mean you have to accept the options offered by a mediator. It is simply a means of attempting to get the parties to reach a solution prior to moving forward with the case and incurring high costs.
How do we initiate mediation?
Every local court has its own procedures, but in general they are fairly similar. The procedures for a divorce are straightforward. One party initiates the case by filing a complaint. This legal document describes the parties, their children, if any, property, and reasons for seeking a divorce. This highly technical document is usually best drafted by a seasoned attorney in order to avoid costly and devastating mistakes. Next, the other party will file an answer. This document, much like the complaint, is a legal document that either admits or denies everything in the complaint. Once the answer is filed, the parties may request mediation.
It is also possible to mediate the family law dispute prior to filing a case, simply by contacting a qualified mediator. In many cases after a successful pre-suit mediation, the parties work out their dispute so the case proceeds quickly as an uncontested matter.
What happens if I accept the agreement, and what happens if I do not accept it?
To get the most out of your mediation, you should hire a skilled Orlando divorce lawyer who has experience handling mediations. This will increase your chances of reaching a solution. Your attorney can help explain the strengths of your case, explain the law, and clarify any inaccuracies in your spouse’s arguments, and he or she can do it without the same level of emotion that you will be experiencing. This allows you the best chance of coming out of your divorce better off than you would if unrepresented.
If you and your spouse agree at mediation, then your attorneys will draft a settlement agreement that you and your spouse will sign. It will be presented to the judge to review. Once signed by the judge, a final order will be recorded dissolving your marriage, based on your agreement. That settlement agreement is essentially a court-approved contract, setting forth the terms you have agreed upon.
If, however, one of you does not agree at mediation, you can certainly proceed with the case and move toward a trial. Sometimes this is advisable; sometimes it is not. Skilled central Florida divorce lawyer Goodblatt · Leo can offer the guidance you need to make that decision. She is also a licensed family law mediator; she has conducted hundreds of mediations , most of which were successfully resolved. Either way, mediation can be a terrific resource for early resolution, and it can also be a great way to learn more about your spouse’s case, theories, and motivations. This may lead to further negations later and ultimately a settlement.