Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution that is mandatory in a Florida divorce, paternity, or modification case, but many people do not see the process as the benefit it is. During mediation, the two parties will meet with a mediator who is an unbiased and uninterested person in the case. The mediator will try and help the parties resolve all disputes related to the family law case. If an agreement is reached, it is drafted and submitted to the Court for approval so the case can be closed. While the process is straightforward, there are still many myths related to the process. Your Jacksonville family attorney can assist you in understanding the mediation process. Below are the biggest myths about family law mediation in Florida, and the truth behind them.
The Mediator Will Make All the Decisions
This is simply untrue. Mediators do not make any of the decisions when they meet with parties going through a divorce, paternity, or modification case. They cannot force either party to do, or not do, anything. Instead, they are only there to help you and facilitate you and your spouse, ex-spouse, or co-parent to reach an agreement. If you cannot reach an agreement and your case requires litigation, it is the Judge that will make all the decisions. Your Jacksonville family attorney is here to assist you in mediation and to represent you in any litigation should you not reach agreement.
Mediation is a Guaranteed Fix
If Mediation came with a guarantee that it would resolve all the issues in a divorce, paternity action or modification, there would be no need for litigation at all. Mediation is very helpful for many parties, but there are times when it does not work. If one party is not completely honest about their assets, or if one party has no interest in trying to reach an agreement, mediation will likely fail. Your Jacksonville family attorney will encourage you to approach mediation with an open mind and not to expect to get everything you want to go your way. Mediation is about compromise, and it requires both parties to be willing to do so.
Mediation is Not Appropriate for Couples that Cannot Remain Civil
It is true that the more conflict and anger a person brings into mediation, the harder it will be to reach an agreement. However, if you and the other party feel hostile towards each other, there is still a chance mediation will work. Mediators are highly trained in dispute resolution techniques, and they regularly deal with conflicting parties. So, even if you and the other party are not speaking or otherwise having trouble communicating, a mediator may be just what you need. There are methods the mediator can use to limit the tension felt between the parties. One method is called caucusing. Caucusing means separating the parties and the mediator going back and forth between them to reach an agreement.
Mediation is More Favorable Towards Men
This myth stems from the misconception that women are not as familiar with the household finances, property, and investments as men in marriages. Today, many women are the breadwinners of the home and are in complete control of the finances. In most marriages, both parties are also fully aware of the financial situation. Regardless, of the situation though, mediators are not interested in one party winning but rather, reaching an agreement suitable for everyone that the Judge will sign off on.
Mediation Cannot Deal with Our Complex Issues
If you have a complex divorce case that involves high assets or other complicated factors, mediation can still help you and your spouse sort through them and come to an agreement. Most divorce cases can be settled in mediation, regardless of how complex the issues involved.
Your Jacksonville Family Attorney Can Review Your Mediation Agreement
Even when going through mediation to resolve your divorce, paternity, or modification case, you should still work with a Jacksonville Family Attorney. Your skilled Jacksonville Family Attorney will review any agreement you reach during mediation to ensure that it upholds your rights and protects your best interests before you sign it.
About the Author
B. Elaine Jones is a licensed Florida attorney who has been practicing family law and guardianship law for over 25 years in Florida. Ms. Jones is an associate with the Law Office of David M. Goldman in Jacksonville, Florida. Ms. Jones previously had a solo practitioner firm in Hillsborough County and joined Attorney Goldman’s firm in November of 2020. You can contact Ms. Jones at the Law Office of David M. Goldman for a free initial consultation in most cases.