Clients often ask what to expect at a family law mediation. Family law mediations can involve many issues, including: dissolution or divorce; child sharing; child support; divisions of assets and liabilities; as well as, other family law issues that arise.
Family Law Mediation
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process where a neutral third party, called a mediator, acts to encourage and facilitate the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties. It is an informal, non-adversarial, confidential process that gives decision making authority to the parties. The role of the mediator includes, but is not limited to, assisting the parties with identifying issues, fostering joint problem solving, giving information and suggestions, and exploring settlement alternatives. The objective of mediation is to help disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement.
What are the benefits of a family law mediation?
There are many benefits of mediation.
• Mediation is a confidential process; therefore, nothing said from the time the order of referral is signed until the mediation ends may be disclosed, except where disclosure is required or permitted by law.
• Mediation empowers the parties. It is a process that encourages and facilitates the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties and gives decision making authority to the parties.
• Mediation is an informal and non-adversarial process.
• Mediation may resolve all of the issues in your case and can be more efficient and economical.
Who may serve as a family law mediator?
For general information about the qualifications for a mediator in Florida please go to http://www.flcourts.org/resources-and-services/alternative-dispute-resolution/. All mediators provided by the Second Judicial Circuit ADR Unit are certified as family, dependency or county civil mediators.
How to schedule a family law mediation through the Second Judicial Circuit ADR Unit?
Your attorney will schedule the mediation with opposing counsel. Mediations ordered in all six counties of the Second Judicial Circuit (Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, and Wakulla) are scheduled by emailing Mediations@leoncountyfl.gov.
Do I have to attend family law mediation?
For county civil, ($5,000-$15,000 in dispute), family and dependency cases, you must be physically present for all mediations unless you have obtained the written consent of the other party, or a court order allowing you to appear by telephone. You will be responsible for obtaining the court order if the other party objects to your attendance by telephone.
In all cases the lawyer or non-lawyer must have full authority to settle the case on behalf of the party they are representing.
Who else can attend a family law mediation?
If you have hired an attorney, the attorney may attend, but is not required to do so. However, attorneys can be beneficial to the mediation process. Mediators are not allowed to give legal advice; therefore, the parties may wish to have an attorney present for that purpose.
Other interested parties (e.g., family members or friends) may attend the mediation only if consent is given by the other party.
CHILDREN MAY NOT ATTEND MEDIATION, unless they are specified in the order of referral to mediation. The Second Judicial Circuit ADR Unit does not have child care facilities.
How long does a family law mediation take?
One session of family court mediation is scheduled to last three hours. Parties attending mediation must be prepared to spend the full three hours at the session, but often the session does not last for three hours. Normally, the mediation takes between two and three hours to complete. If the mediation is not completed within that timeframe, you must pay an additional fee for another session.
If the parties reach a settlement, the mediator will prepare the agreement. This will take additional time. All parties must remain throughout the entire session, including the preparation and execution of the agreement.
How much do I pay for family law mediation?
For family court mediation, the cost depends on the combined gross incomes of both parties in a family case. If the combined gross income (before taxes) is less than $50,000, the fee is $60 per party, per 3-hour session.
If the combined gross income is greater than $50,000 but less than $100,000 the fee is $120 per party, per 3-hour session.
If the combined gross income exceeds $100,000 then your case does not qualify for the Second Judicial Circuit ADR Unit. You must select a private mediator. In all cases mediation fees must be paid before the mediation begins.
When must the fees for the family law mediation be paid?
All mediation fees must be paid prior to the mediation session beginning. You must obtain an invoice from the Second Judicial Circuit ADR Unit or the Mediator prior to paying the fee with the Clerk of Court. All fees are paid to the Clerk of the Court in the county in which the case is pending.
If the court has approved your motion to appear by phone or you have received consent from the other party to appear by phone you must contact the Second Judicial Circuit ADR Unit immediately to receive instructions on how to pay your mediation fee.
What is a parent coordinator?
A parenting coordinator is an impartial third person whose role is to assist the parents in successfully creating or implementing a parenting plan.
What if I have a family law mediation question not covered by this discussion?
If you have any unanswered questions we welcome you to contact our office at (850) 577-1699 or email.