Mediation is a process where Parties and their attorneys meet with a third party, called a Mediator, in an effort to reach an agreement without going through the time an expense of a trial or hearing. Unlike a Judge or and Arbitrator, the Mediator has no power or ability to force the Parties to do anything. The Mediator is simply an impartial third party who tries to add perspective for both sides in an effort to broker an agreement that everyone can live with.
Mediation can be a very helpful process during which many domestic issues may be resolved. Mediation is often required in many counties for parties that have filed a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (divorce petition), and for parties who have filed a Petition to Establish Paternity, Parenting Plan and Child Support (paternity petition). It may also be required in cases where parties are seeking to modify a prior judgment, or in cases where parties are attempting to enforce a prior judgment. Regardless of the type of mediation you are attending, the process is very similar.
Mediation is a confidential process. With some extremely limited exceptions, nothing that is said in mediation can be repeated outside mediation. The Court will not ever hear what occurred in mediation. The reason for this rule is so that Parties can openly and honestly negotiate without fear that, if an agreement is not reached, that the other Party will be in court arguing that you were willing to agree to the matter in mediation.
Typically, the Parties and their attorneys will meet with the mediator in one room to start. The mediator will make some, hopefully brief, introductory comments concerning the process and confidentiality. The Parties or their attorneys are then allowed to make an opening statement. This is not as formal as it sounds. Usually both attorneys will simply state what the issues in the case are and what their positions are on these issues. From there, each Party and their attorney will usually separate into different rooms. The mediator will spend time with both sides and go back and forth from each room trying to get the Parties to agree. This process will continue until either an agreement is reached or it becomes clear that an agreement is not going to be reached which is called an Impasse.
Mediation is an important process and many cases have been resolved in mediation. Considering the cost of going to trial, it makes sense to do everything you can to settle a case. I am constantly shocked at the cases I have settled in mediation. I have gone into many mediations thinking to myself that the Parties could not be further apart and that there was no chance of the case settling. Always go into mediation having a sense of what is really important to you and what you may be able to bend on. At the same time, and most importantly, go into mediation with an open mind.
Many Parties think they will go into mediation, see what happens, and then, if it does not work out, they will hire an attorney. The problem is these agreements are binding and unless you have a thorough knowledge of what each Party is entitled to, you are negotiating blindly. I get at least one call a month from a Party who has gone in to mediation, signed an agreement and later learned what a mistake they had made.
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If you are going through a family law matter in which mediation is a requirement, call us today for a free consultation to learn about our experience in handling such matters. We invite you to schedule an appointment by phone at (321) 837-9547 or by e-mail through this website to discuss your needs, options, and legal rights as quickly as possible.
Jenkinson Legal has many satisfied clients throughout seven counties of Central Florida – Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Polk, Volusia, and Brevard. Here at the Florida Family Law office of Jenkinson Legal we have one simple objective: provide personalized, one on one attention to our clients’ legal worries so they can concentrate on life and family. Contact Jenkinson Legal today to learn more about our experience and success at (321) 837-9547. We are conveniently located in beautiful downtown Winter Park, Florida.