What is the advantage of Mediation over traditional divorce or family litigation?
Mediation Costs Substantially Less
Litigation is a long and expensive process. The client usually has to pay attorneys and other professionals to help them with their case throughout the litigation process, which may take months and even years to finish. In mediation, you only have to pay the mediator for the time that you're in mediation and you avoid having attorney's or other fees get out of control. You are in control of how much you spend in resolving your dispute. Please see our Fee Schedule for more information.
Mediation is Faster
When you start a divorce or other family law action there are certain procedures in litigation that need to be followed that delay your divorce. You will need to gather evidence, schedule and attend hearings, go to mediation (yes, the judge most likely will order you to mediation before going to trial), and schedule and attend trial. The sooner you and the other party schedule mediation after deciding to get a divorce or any other family law issue arises, the faster the whole process will be and you avoid the added stress and inconvenience that litigation causes - e.g. uncertainty at hearings and missed work days to attend hearings.
Mediation is Confidential
Unlike trials and hearings, which are held in public courtrooms, mediations are private and confidential (with few exceptions, where disclosure is required by law - e.g. indications of child or elder abuse). When you go to mediation, there are laws which require strict confidentiality and the participants are not allowed to discuss with anybody else things that are said in the mediation. If somebody was not present at mediation they have no right in knowing what was discussed at mediation. Not even the judge!
You Decide How You Want to Resolve Your Dispute
You are the decision maker. You are the person that decides what is best for your family. You have the power of self-determination. In litigation, if you are not able to reach an agreement before the trial, a judge is going to make the decisions for you. In essence, you are handing over the power to make decisions regarding your family to an unknown person. With litigation, you are gambling with what a judge might decide for you. On the other hand, a mediator helps you discuss your concerns and issues but does not make decisions for you.
Mediation is Flexible and Informal
Mediation allows you to reach flexible and creative solutions that will fit better with your family's needs. At trial, a judge makes a decision and issues a final order, and the parties have to follow the order or be subject to contempt. It is uncertain what decision might be made at trial and whether the parties are capable of following it. Mediation is also flexible since the parties have control of scheduling and are allowed and even encouraged to attend as many mediation sessions as necessary to adequately address all concerns and resolve all issues pending in the case.
Tips on How to Prepare for Mediation
- Get legal advice: A mediator cannot give legal advice to any parties. If you have legal questions about your case (such as what your case is worth or what to accept as a good settlement), you should contact an attorney that will explain and help you decide any particular area of concern that you might have regarding your case.
- Get organized: Go over all of the information that you have and organize it. Divorce and family law cases deal with many financial issues that affect directly with child support, alimony, and distribution of assets and liabilities. The more information that you gather regarding income, assets, and liabilities the better prepared you will be on the day of mediation to discuss all the issues that concern you.
- Come prepared: Be prepared to talk to the other party, even if you have had problems talking to the other party on your own, the mediator is there to help with the communication. Be prepared with any documentation that you want to bring to support your negotiating position.
- Set goals: Think about what you really need to resolve the dispute. Set realistic goals to guide you in your decision-making. The goal of mediation is not to win and the other party to lose. The goal is to reach an agreement that fits the particular circumstances of the family and that both parties can follow. Be flexible, you may get new information during the mediation that could change your mind on what your ultimate goal should be.
My Commitment as a Florida Certified Family Law Mediator is to create an atmosphere of respect and communication that will assist you in reaching a resolution for your case. I will encourage settlement in a patient, fair and impartial manner that will allow you to consider all aspects of the agreement that needs to be reached in order to avoid costly litigation. In our office, we strongly believe that you should be empowered with the ability find a resolution that best works for you and your family.