Choosing the Right Mediator
In Florida, most jurisdictions handling contested divorce (dissolution of marriage) require the case to go to mediation before it can be assigned a court hearing date to be heard by a judge. As mediation allows each party, with the help of their attorney, to hopefully be willing to compromise and work out a marital settlement agreement satisfactory to each, it is most important to select a mediator who will work diligently to try to have this happen. It is highly unlikely either party will get all the results they would like, but one of the advantages of a mediation is the couple has control of their outcomes rather than having to submit to the outcomes handed down by a judge who may or may not be sympathetic to an individual’s needs and desires. Additionally, coming to terms during mediation with a marital settlement costs less than going to court and the final decree comes a lot faster. Mediators in Florida are trained and certified as a Florida Supreme Court Certified Civil Mediators, but as in most situations, some mediators are better at this job than others. If you are planning a divorce in Florida, with the help of your attorney, here are 8 ideas to consider when choosing the right mediator:
- Look for a mediator who charges a flat fee per hour. Sometimes this is more than an over-all fee but it can be substantially less if your mediation is over quickly. Shop around several mediators to compare prices.
- Check with friends and family who have used a mediator in your area to get their opinion as to how their mediation went. Your attorney will also have ideas from his or her experience. Some attorneys are certified mediators so will have in-depth knowledge of what to consider when choosing a mediator. Attorney Grant Gisondo is both a Family Law attorney and a Florida certified mediator. So, if you live in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange or Hillsborough County he is an excellent choice. While he can’t represent you as well as be your mediator, he will know how to best choose the right one.
- Mediators should be willing to share with the couple how mediation works and what legal limits and expectations they will be looking at for their individual case. Taking time to answer a couple’s questions is important as well.
- Mediators should make it clear he or she is in the middle, not favoring one side or the other. Each side should be continually encouraged to compromise and reminded of the advantages of coming to an agreement with a marital settlement. This does not mean, however, a mediator will make or decide decisions for either party.
- Mediators are used in many types of legal cases so if you are going through a divorce, it is best to choose a mediator who mediates only divorces and cases related to divorce such as post-divorce modification of child support, parental timesharing, and/or alimony.
- Mediators must be problem solvers as they need to guide the couple through compromise to hopefully develop an outcome which will lead to a marital settlement.
- During mediation, a mediator must be able to keep both party’s emotions as calm as possible. Bad language and/or put-downs of either party by the other needs to be stopped immediately with firm, yet gentle admonishment.
- A good mediator will have a reputation for being compassionate and caring toward each person they are trying to help. No prejudice of, for example, preference for a male or female should follow a mediator’s history. Race, religion, or creed should not matter.
So much of the final outcome of a divorce case in mediation can rest on the abilities and personality of a mediator. As mentioned above, Attorney Grant Gisondo can not only represent a client in court but, as a trained and certified mediator will know how to help choose the right mediator for his clients. He offers a free, initial, in-office consultation where he will meet with you personally. At this time he will gladly answer questions you have regarding mediation and choosing the right mediator for your individual case. His office hours are Monday through Friday 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Saturday, for new clients, 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM. His office phone number in Palm Beach Gardens is (561) 530-4568 to call for an appointment.