What is Is Family Law Mediation? Is This Right for You?
Mediation is a process that utilizes a neutral third party to help people negotiate to resolve disputes and conflicts, and it may be used during divorce or child custody cases in order to get results faster and help both parties come to an amicable agreement. In Jacksonville, Florida family law mediation may be ordered by the court, but both parties must still agree before anything is accomplished.
As an experienced family law attorney and a former Florida supreme court certified family law mediator. I understand the mediation process. This may be used to reach an agreement on custody and placement of a child, spousal support, property division, visitation schedules, and even what forms of discipline are agreed to. The goal is to improve communication so that the parties can reach an agreement without the court making decisions for them.
Mediation Offers Both Advantages and Disadvantages
Any family law attorney in Jacksonville, Florida, understands that mediation has both benefits and drawbacks, and these need to be carefully evaluated when moving forward. These can include:
- Lower Costs– Mediation can resolve issues like custody, spousal support, and property division for far less than it costs to go to court repeatedly in most cases. Mediators with more experience will cost more, but they may also be more effective at opening lines of communication.
- Less Time Required– The court process can take considerable time, especially in complex cases or when one party wants to disagree on everything. Evidence shows that cases that are mediated are usually resolved within three months versus six months or even longer using the court process instead.
- More Flexibility– Mediators are often available outside of typical court hours, allowing for sessions in the evening or on weekends when the court is not open.
- Privacy and Confidentiality– The mediation is private and confidential, and everything said is kept between the two parties, any lawyer that each party has retained, and the mediator. These discussions can not be used against you in court so you can speak and negotiate freely. There is no public record that can be accessed, which is not typically true of court filings and hearings.
- Different Rules of Evidence– It may be possible to include details and information which would not be allowed as evidence in a court of law, and this may strengthen your negotiating position.
- Both Sides Walk Away Feeling Heard and Agree With the Outcome– Mediation can be court-ordered, but both parties must agree in the end, and this can lessen the tension and end the case amicably. Both parties feel heard and are okay with the outcome.
- No Guarantees are Offered– When it comes to mediation, there is no guarantee of success. The parties could spend several sessions and still disagree on everything. If one side is convinced they are in the right if the other party will not listen or be reasonable if there was any domestic violence which could cause one party to be in fear, or if an agreement can’t be reached you may still end up in the court process anyway.
- You May Want Publicity– Mediation is private, but some lawyers understand that publicity can be a driving factor in settling some cases. If one party wants confidentiality but refuses to negotiate in good faith, then the threat of publicity could change this factor.
An experienced and knowledgeable attorney in Jacksonville, Florida, can help you determine whether family law mediation is right for you and your specific case.
Call Sacks and Sacks Family Law today at (904) 396-5557 for a free consultation, and find out whether mediation can save you time and money while protecting your privacy! We have helped thousands of clients and we can help you!
Norman Pickell, “In Family Law, How is Mediation Different from a Settlement Meeting?”www.mediate.com https://www.mediate.com/articles/pickell.cfm#:~:text=Solving%20disputes%20through%20negotiation%20is,the%20parties%20reach%20a%20settlement.&text=Mediation%20is%20a%20process%20%2D%20a,a%20trained%2C%20impartial%20third%20party. Accessed 10 August 2020.
“Frequently Asked Questions.” apfmnet.org https://apfmnet.org/frequently-asked-questions-about-family-mediation/ Accessed 10 August 2020.