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How Mediation Differs from Litigation During a Florida Divorce

mediation in a divorce

Mediation is an alternative to a trial that is often used for a more peaceable dissolution of a marriage. Mediation may not be appropriate for every case, but if it works for your situation, it can be a way to negotiate your issues and concerns with the help of a neutral third party to resolve your divorce, saving you time, money, and stress.

Advantages of Mediation

The courts often order mediation to resolve issues such as divorce. Court-ordered mediation is often called a win-win because both sides should walk away with some of what they want. The mediator doesn’t take sides and cannot tell you what is right or wrong. S/he cannot give legal advice, even though s/he may be a lawyer, or provide counseling to resolve your dispute.

During a mediation, the mediator – a professional, a lawyer, counselor, or educator – will introduce themselves and explain the process. Both sides will have a chance to present their concerns. Your lawyer may be at your side, but not necessarily. The mediator may also meet with each side privately.

Mediation can take as little as an hour, or it could require several sessions. This depends on the complexity of the issues involved with the divorce and other specific circumstances.

Following a session, you may reach an agreement; you may reach an impasse, or you may decide to return another day.

Consider the advantages of mediation:

  • The mediator can help with communication. You may be repeating the same points back and forth, but the mediator can help you listen to each other and stay focused. The mediator can restart the conversation by taking a fresh approach to an old or ongoing dispute.  
  • Litigation may involve the costs associated with a deposition, paying an expert witness or two, or having a life care plan to tell the jury what your financial needs will be down the road. You can avoid litigation or trial with a mediator. You will save time and money, and the process is much quicker than all of the work that goes into preparing a case for trial.
  • You direct the outcome. The judge does not necessarily know what the best outcome is during the dissolution of your marriage. Both of you are in the best position to make that decision, otherwise leaving it in the hands of a judge may result in a ruling that is not what you want.
  • Mediation is far more economical than paying a lawyer hourly. Private mediators will charge the market rates. The mediator may have a minimum fee, and in some cases, the court provides the mediators for free.

Mediation is best for divorcing couples who understand the issues, know what they want, and are prepared to talk civilly to each other. Consult with your attorney before the mediation to make sure you understand the legal issues.

Mediation is not necessarily for someone who is intimidated by their divorcing spouse. An individual who is not used to advocating for himself/herself may not do well in mediation unless they have an advocate by their side.

If there is no resolving your outstanding issues, you may both decide it’s best not to agree to mediation. The decision is yours; you remain the decision-maker. You always have the option to go to court.

Your Florida Family Law Attorney

There are times when mediation is not recommended. It may be that your spouse is hiding assets and working counter to your needs, for example. Attorney Crystal Collins Spencer has decades of experience dealing with situations that make a contentious divorce and litigation necessary.

On the other hand, you and your spouse might be on fairly good terms and there may not be too many outstanding issues/disputes to resolve. If this is the case, mediation might be a good fit, and Ms. Spencer can provide experienced advice and counsel throughout the process.

Call our Pensacola office at (850) 795-4910 to arrange a consultation so you can know your rights and how best to proceed.

Sources:

Flaw
https://www.flcourts.org/Resources-Services/Alternative-Dispute-Resolution/Mediation-in-Florida#:~:text=Mediation%20is%20different%20from%20litigation,a%20trial%20nor%20an%20arbitration.

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