Statistics show that many only experience a divorce, or any legal matter once in their lives. Therefore, certain legal terms and processes are foreign and elicit fear within clients entering the process. Mediation is one of the steps a couple will engage in during a divorce that many have no expectations or knowledge of. However, your Pensacola Divorce Attorney has compiled some general information regarding the mediation process to alleviate some unknowns.
The first step of any mediation process is choosing your mediator. A mediator is a neutral and impartial third party employed by the parties, or the court to assist in a collaborative resolution for the parties. It is encouraged that the parties work together to choose a mediator for their specific case. However, if the parties are unable to agree the court may appoint a mediator. When a mediator is chosen, you will be provided with a letter from the mediator that will generally address their qualifications and goals. More information may be provided as well such as the procedure of the mediation, costs, and time scheduled.
This letter is legally required to inform the parties of the cost of the mediation. However, costs of a mediator can depend on whether the court provided the mediator, or the parties privately selected one. Under Florida Statute 44.108, costs of a mediator in family law cases are dependent upon the incomes of the parties. This provides each couple engaged in a divorce proceeding to be able to afford the cost of a mediator, no matter their level of income. The court, if they choose, may also set the costs of a mediator appointed to the parties.
The time allotted for a mediation is generally, 3 hours. However, the parties may discuss and request time adjustments if necessary. The time provided in each mediation is dependent upon the party’s willingness to negotiate, and the number of disputed issues. Therefore, mediations may take as little as an hour or may take days. The time is always negotiable and the parties may return to the mediation again.
The parties involved in a mediation procedure include you, your Pensacola Divorce Attorney, your spouse, their attorney, and the mediator. Each group will be separated into their own private rooms and the mediator will go between to discuss the stances of each party and discuss settlement offers and negotiations. Your attorney will be with you throughout the process. However, in some cases clients request the presence of a third party, such as a friend or family member. Third parties are only permitted in a mediation upon agreement by all parties. All parties, including permitted third parties, are bound by the rules of confidentiality governing a mediation. This means, that you may not discuss anything said at the mediation with anyone other than those present at the mediation. Further, any discussions or offers at mediation may not be brought up in a later court proceeding. The goal is to encourage open and honest communication between the parties and the mediator without fear of retribution, allowing for more room to properly negotiate a settlement.
Mediation may end in one of two ways, agreement (full or partial), or impasse. If an agreement is reached, whether on one issue, or all pertinent issues, the parties, and attorneys will sign a written agreement documenting the terms of the issue resolved. If other issues still remain, or no agreement was reached, you will likely return to court allowing the judicial process to determine the outcome of your case.
Mediation occurs in almost every divorce case, and therefore, your knowledge and understanding of the process will place you a step ahead. With this information, you will be able to properly prepare, know the parties, process, and common results. Further, if any of this information evoked more questions, your Pensacola Divorce Attorney is available and willing to explain mediation in more detail and focus on your specific questions regarding your case.
Speaking to an attorney at our Pensacola office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 850-999-5857 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.