A Mediator’s Role in Family Law Cases
Mediation is an alternate form of trying to resolve a dispute with the help of a third party who is referred to as a “mediator”. In the case of Family Law matters, mediation is offered in hopes a settlement between two parties can be reached without having to go to court where a judge will resolve matters and set forth the final decree. In most states this method of negotiation has been successfully used for a number of years and in some states is a requirement before a Family Law matter can be put before the court. The issues often requiring a pre-court mediation include divorce (dissolution of marriage), and the seeking of postjudgment modification for child support, parental timesharing that includes the parenting plan (custody and visitation), and alimony.
While an attorney usually represents each party, the role of the mediator is key to the functioning of mediation. As this role is so vitally important, most states require a mediator to be trained and certified. In Florida, for example, a person desiring to be a Family Law mediator must be credentialed as a Supreme Court Certified Civil Mediator. Once certification is accomplished, there are a number of ways the role of the mediator in a Family Law Case is carried out.
- First and foremost it is important to understand a mediator is not a judge and therefore cannot forcibly resolve matters being negotiated during the mediation. The role here is to facilitate, compromise and gently guide the participating parties to a reasonable outcome. A mediator cannot make decisions in the case, offer legal advice, or offer opinions as to either party’s considerations and decisions.
- Prior to mediation a mediator needs to be available to speak with the attorneys involved as this usually helps all legal counsel to understand the case to be mediated and to make sure both sides are ready to negotiate.
- A mediator explains the rules of mediation as put forth by the state of your residence. This is usually done at the beginning of mediation.
- A mediator listens carefully to how each party would like for the final outcome of their case to be settled.
- A mediator takes offers from one party to the other, all the while encouraging compromise. Sometimes the mediator will suggest each party give up an issue in contention to help the couple to settle. A mediator points out it is best to be able to settle in a private, non-public setting where each person’s future can be discussed and hopefully resolved by the people themselves, not a judge. This is called empowerment.
- Given a reasonable time, as determined by how negotiations are going, a mediator will end the mediation when an agreement has been reached or it is obvious the case will need to be set before and determined by a judge.
- If no agreement is reached the mediator will tell the judge both sides were present at the meditation and no settlement was agreed on.
- When an agreement is reached, the mediator will draft a settlement agreement, which both parties will sign.
Many times a Family Law attorney will be a certified mediator as well. This is definitely an advantage when it comes to helping you determine how to navigate your divorce or post divorce modifications. Should you live in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami Dade, Broward, Orange, or Hillsborough counties in Florida and are considering divorce or modifications, Attorney Grant Gisondo, whose office is in West Palm Beach, is an experienced Family Law attorney as well as a Florida Supreme Court Certified Civil Mediator. Look around on this website and learn more about him, read what he has to say about successful mediation, and see the many positive recommendations from well satisfied clients. You can also call his office at (561) 530-4568 to make an appointment to speak with him personally during an initial, free, in-office consultation.