Articles Posted in Mediation

Mediation in divorce and family law cases is a way for the people involved to directly take part in the outcome.  Otherwise, strangers who know very little about the true nature of the dispute will make decisions for those involved in the case.  Mediation is a process where you have a neutral third person acting as a referee of sorts to help the parties involved see if an agreement can been reached.  Any issue can be resolved in mediation, from child support and alimony to the division of marital assets.  The mediator is not on anyone’s side, but uses logic, experience, and his or her knowledge of family law to help each side understand the other person’s viewpoint and what could possibly happen if the case were to go to trial.

Mediation in Florida

Balance through mediation

Mediators can differ a lot in style, but in general, he or she will start with one side and explain the rules and the process to the person.  The same will be done for the person on the other side.  In a typical divorce case, the parties involved will be the husband and his lawyer on one side and the wife and her lawyer on the other side.  Although with same sex marriages being more prevalent, variations of this scenario are possible.  Some mediators will do the initial process disclosure with both parties present in the same room in order to save time.  Afterwards, the parties are split, and each side will explain its position and may make an offer to the other party, or they may send an invitation to receive an offer from the other side.

A client walked into Apple six months ago, trying to get his alimony modified. He was not sure about hiring an attorney because he felt his previous attorney was a tiger in his office but a wallflower in Court. We finally asked us him to let us try to solve his family law problem and made a commitment to treat him like our most important client. His reluctance gave way to confidence in our firm and he hired us.

The case was a garden-variety modification of alimony, one of the most heavily litigated types of family law cases. The standard for a modification of alimony is completely at the discretion of the court. The court does not have an obligation to modify; it just has the option…that is if your attorney proves the three elements. To receive a modification of alimony the petitioner, the person asking for the modification in layman’s terms must demonstrate that three things have happened since the original divorce:

• The party asking for a modification must demonstrate a material change in circumstances. That means things have drastically changed for one party for the better or the worse. Sickness or long-term loss of employment can be examples of such material changes.

divorce mediation.jpgOne of the questions that many people ask when they come into my office is “do I need to have a lawyer at mediation?” While each St. Augustine divorce case is different, the short answer is “Yes.” Even if you have begun your St. Augustine Divorce case on your own, having a lawyer at any stage of your divorce, a really good idea to have at your mediation.

Many judges will order divorce proceedings to go to mediation before a judge will make a final determination and mediations can present several unique circumstances that you may not anticipate or know exactly how to deal with. There are several things to keep in mind if you plan on not hiring a St. Augustine Divorce Attorney to represent you at mediation:

1) The mediator cannot and will not give you legal advice like a St. Augustine Divorce Attorney can. A St. Augustine Divorce Attorney will ensure that you have the information necessary to make an informed decision.

fork in road.jpgWhen divorcing in Jacksonville, Florida, couples have one big decision to make regarding how their divorce process will play out. Divorcing couples can choose to go down the often less stressful and short road of an uncontested divorce by deciding they will be the decision maker in the divorce process or they can decide to go down the long and often tumultuous road of a contested divorce giving full decision making power to the Family Law Judge.

If divorcing couples are smart they will save time and money by choosing to attend mediation (which is almost always court ordered in Jacksonville, Florida) and come to an amicable agreement in regards to the splitting of assets and debts and time with any minor children. If parties choose to take this route their divorce can be completed within a matter of a few months.

However, taking the uncontested/mediating avenue is not always an option. Sometimes parties can just not agree. After all, roughly 10% of divorces end in a trial. When this occurs a Judge decides the parties fate. It has been my experience, as a Jacksonville Divorce Lawyer, that neither party is truly happy with the Judge’s decision. Not only may the parties’ be unhappy with the Judge’s ruling, they likely spent a substantial amount of money in attorney’s fees and the process could have lasted many many months.

argue.jpgHave you been wronged in your marriage and want to file for divorce? Do you want to make the divorce process as miserable and prolonged as possible for the spouse who wronged you? As a Jacksonville Divorce Lawyer I recommend thinking past your anger and looking at the bigger picture. Divorce is obviously an unpleasant procedure, but divorcing couples should consider doing what divorce lawyers do in their own divorces.

Divorce lawyers going through a personal divorce do their damnedest to stay out of the courtroom. They know all to well that no one wins when divorcing couples go all the way to trial. They know going to court, “wastes energy, time, and money and is a last resort; it is something they will consider only when there is no other choice.”

Divorce lawyers have vicariously experienced their client’s frustrations during the divorce process. One such frustration is the client’s desire to inform the Family Law Judge of all the injustices, dishonesty, betrayal, adultery, etc… However, in reality, if the client is given the opportunity to testify in front of the Judge they are merely allowed to speak when answering a question posed to them. There is no, “Judge he did this to me and didn’t do this, that or the other.” Oh, and of course, the rules of evidence will only allow that certain testimony be presented.

divorce mediation.jpegIn the vast majority of divorce cases (and all family law cases for that matter) in Duval County, Family Law Judges order parties to attend Mediation prior to trial. As a Jacksonville Divorce Lawyer, I know that the majority of these cases can be settled at Mediation.

What exactly happens at Mediation? Well, in Mediation, a neutral third party (the mediator) helps negotiate a marital settlement agreement between the divorcing couple. However, it is important to know, the mediator cannot force either party to agree to anything. The decision-making is truly left up to both parties, which is of course completely opposite then if the parties were to go before a Judge. The mediator can meet with the parties together and/or separately to see if a compromise can be reached, which tends to be far more relaxed and informal then trial.

If an agreement is reached during the mediation, it is immediately reduced to writing. Which then, basically becomes the final divorce decree, and is legally binding. After an agreement is made and reduced to writing at mediation all that is left to do is have the Judge sign the agreement and thus make the divorce final.

dress.jpgHiring a good Florida Family Law Attorney is one of the more important decisions you can make in your family law issue. A good attorney will use the most persuasive means to advocate your cause.

Sometimes, however, people overlook a very important aspect of persuasion: your attire. As the client, you want to give the court the best impression you can. This means you need to dress conservatively. The court may not say anything if you show up in jeans and a cut-off shirt; however, the court definitely does notice it. You want to make a good impression, so wear something you might wear to church or to a nice restaurant.

Most of all, you want to convey respect to the court. Look presentable. The court might not notice if you got a new haircut, but it will definitely notice if you just rolled out of bed. Being presentable to the court will help your Florida Family Law Attorney persuade the court to your side. Contact an attorney to discuss any family law issues you may have.

grandparents.jpgFlorida law stipulates that families resolve differences over grandparent time-sharing within the family. However, when families are unable to resolve differences relating to grandparent time-sharing, the law provides that the family shall participate in any formal or informal mediation services that may be available.

As a Jacksonville Family Law Attorney, mediating time-sharing disputes is something I continually deal with. Should you have any questions relating to paternal rights and/or grandparent time-sharing in Florida, feel free to contract me at any time!

marriage counselor.jpgA new North Dakota bill is getting a lot of attention in the North Dakota legislature, as it is proposing mandatory marriage counseling in all divorce cases. The drafters of the bill want all married couples, with the exemption of cases with substantiated allegations of domestic abuse, to wait one year to get a divorce while they attend mandatory marriage counseling.

 

Florida does not require mandatory marriage counseling when a married couple is seeking to obtain a divorce. Instead, in Florida the Court may refer parties to mediation in cases where parental responsibility, primary residence, timesharing, or child support are contested.

To find out more about what Florida courts require in regards to divorce proceedings contact a Neptune Beach Divorce Attorney.

Child Custody: The Best Interests of the Child Standard.

Florida Family Law Lawyers know the importance of the Best Interests of the Child Standard. However, those going through a custody dispute may be somewhat unfamiliar. First it is important to know that the (BIC) standard is the primary focus for a Family law judge when decided a custody case. In any custody battle it is vital not lose sight of the importance of making decisions in the best interest of the child(ren). Some of the factors courts take into consideration when determining custody and time-sharing issues are as follows:

The wishes of the child;

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