In 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.