Answers to your questions about divorce mediation in Florida

Divorce mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process that can be used to settle divorce-related issues outside of court. Nearly any issue pertaining to divorce can be addressed through the mediation process, including child custody and visitation plans, child support, division of property and alimony. Florida law requires most divorcing couples to attempt to resolve their issues through mediation before going to court, but many choose to do so voluntarily because of the numerous potential advantages that the process can offer. Here you will find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about divorce mediation in Florida.

What is the mediation process like?

Divorce mediation typically involves a series of meetings between the mediator, the divorcing spouses, and often their attorneys. These mediation sessions take place in a neutral location, such as a law office or conference room. The mediator, unlike a judge, does not have the power to make decisions about the outcome and will not take sides. He or she will act as a neutral facilitator to help the divorcing spouses identify and resolve their own issues as they see fit.

What are the benefits of mediation?

One of the main benefits of choosing to mediate a divorce is that it gives the spouses the ability to control the outcome of their own divorce. Because no one is forced to accept a resolution they disagree with, many people feel that mediation is less risky than leaving their divorce in the hands of a judge. Additionally, because the process is based on collaboration, communication and compromise, mediation helps to minimize hostility and combativeness between the divorcing spouses. This can be particularly beneficial for parents and others who wish to maintain positive relationships after the divorce. Other benefits of divorce mediation include reduced costs, faster resolutions and greater privacy than traditional litigation.

Is a mediated agreement legally binding?

Once an agreement is reached through mediation, the terms of the agreement are written up into an agreement that will be signed by both spouses. That agreement must then be approved by a judge, at which point it becomes legally binding and enforceable just like a court-issued divorce order.

What if we cannot reach an agreement?

When divorcing spouses are unable to come to an agreement through the mediation process, they can choose to pursue a resolution of any remaining issues through the traditional litigation process. That process involves going to court and having the unsettled issues decided by a judge. In order to encourage open and honest communication during the mediation process, the contents of the mediation sessions remain confidential and generally cannot be used as evidence if the parties later decide to go to court.

When is mediation not appropriate?

Although mediation can offer a wide range of benefits over traditional divorce, it is not suitable for every situation. If there are concerns about domestic violence or asset concealment, for instance, mediation may not be appropriate. In addition, because the success of the mediation process depends largely on open and honest communication between the parties, it may not be a wise choice in situations where either spouse is unwilling to make a good faith effort to participate.

Contact a lawyer for more information

If you are interested in learning more about divorce mediation and other alternative dispute resolution options for your divorce, contact Michelle A. Barry, P.A., to arrange a consultation.