A family law mediation is simply a conference or meeting between the two sides in one of the following types of family law disputes:
- paternity / child support
- modification of divorce or paternity order
- relocation of a minor child
In Florida, all family law cases must have a mediation prior to a final hearing. However, you do not need to wait until there is a case pending to have a mediation. It is usually a great idea to have a mediation prior to the start of litigation.
A divorce mediation is confidential and the permission of the other side and the divorce mediator is required if you want a third party (parent, sibling, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.) to attend your mediation. Part of the confidentiality of a mediation is that the judge will not hear about anything that is discussed at the mediation – including the various settlement offers. If you have been ordered to attend a mediation, the judge will only be told if you attended the mediation and whether an agreement was reached.
A mediation is typically conducted at the office of a mediator. Since the issues raised in family law cases involve unique issues, the Florida Supreme Court created a program where mediators undergo a training program so they can be called Certified Family Law Mediators. Mr. Mullaney completed this training and has been a Certified Family Law Mediator in Orlando, FL, since 2005.
The mediator is a neutral person chosen by the parties or assigned by a judge. Even though many family law mediators are also family law lawyers, mediators are not allowed to offer legal advice during a mediation. If you need legal advice during a mediation (and you do), you need to hire a family law attorney for the mediation. Also, the mediator does not make decisions about your case. He or she does not act like a judge.
The mediator is allowed to offer suggestions to the parties about how they could come to an agreement on a specific issue. An important job for the mediator is to identify the priorities of each party. Once the priorities are identified, the mediator can request (not require) that a party concede some of their lower ranked priorities that may be more important to the other party. Settlement offers are taken back and forth between the parties until an agreement is reached – or the parties agree that an agreement is not possible.
There are two major advantages of mediation:
- That you have a role in the outcome of your case, and
- A successful mediation will result in a faster and less expensive resolution to your case.
Most parties aren’t thrilled with the settlement agreements that result from a mediation. However, the reason the great majority of cases settle is that most parties cannot tolerate the result of an expensive and unsuccessful litigation that is imposed on them by a judge.
For more information about an Orlando Family Law Mediation, please feel free to call the office or submit your questions on the Contact form.