Must We Attend Mediation?
Must we attend mediation? If you live in the state of Florida and plan to divorce (dissolution of marriage), have a minor child (child under the age of l8 or a child who is unable to provide and care for him or herself) and are looking to set child support and or timesharing including developing a parenting plan, or are needing to return to court for modification of alimony, child support, or timesharing and the parenting plan, you will need to attend mediation before setting a court date. This is true in almost every Florida jurisdiction.
Why does Florida lean so heavily on requiring mediation for trying to solve many Family Law issues? Primarily mediation helps the Family Court system reduce the number of cases that must go before a judge. Most jurisdictions are backed up many months, which is frustrating for those waiting as well as for judges. Also, it has been proven that many cases are better handled during a mediation where both parties and their attorneys, along with a mediator, are able to work together involving compromise to attain a marital settlement or modification agreement that is satisfactory to both.
Many people don’t like the idea of working things out with the other party as there is so much anger and negative emotions involved, and they want a judge to make the decisions. However, if a couple would calm down and really take a look at the advantage of mediation, they could see how working together could be to their advantage. For example:
- Mediations cost a lot less than going to court. If you go to court, not only are their court costs there are additional attorney costs and costs for legal work such as motions, depositions, interrogatories, order for production, additional attorney communications, and often costs for expert witnesses needed to testify,
- It takes a lot less time to process the case and bring closure with a final judgment. The judge will look at the marital or modification agreement over before signing the order, but this takes little time compared to waiting for a hearing in court.
- Probably the most important part of a successful mediation is the fact the couple gets to decide for themselves the outcome of such difficult issues as alimony, equitable distribution of assets and debts, and what is best regarding care and nurturing of minor children. When it comes to child support and parental timesharing, there are guidelines that must be followed, but mediation allows flexibility when appropriate. No outcome will be exactly what a person hopes for, but often the outcome is better tolerated when the couple decides for themselves. A judge will not know the couple intimately and will make decisions as to their future based only on evidence and guidelines. Too, a judge is human and can be having a difficult day, so may make decisions hastily, not taking into consideration all the facts. And, unfortunately, such things as personality, attitude, and appearance of a party can influence a judge to become biased for or against in his or her decisions.
- Lawsuits heard in court are matters of public record while mediation is a private matter meaning what transpires will not be available to anyone other than the parties involved, their attorneys, and the judge.
Mediation is Florida plays a major role in much of Family Law. It is wise to speak with an attorney before deciding on who to represent you to be sure he or she is favorable to mediation and understands how to prepare properly.. If you live in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange, or Hillsborough County in Florida or New York or Washington DC, Family Law Attorney Grant Gisondo is well versed and experienced in successful mediation. In fact, he is a licensed Supreme Court Certified Civil Mediator. Attorney Gisondo offers a free, initial, in-office consultation where you can learn more about mediation and find out how he can help you with your concerns. You can call his office at (561) 539-4568 to make an appointment. His office hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and, for new clients, on Saturday from 8:30 AM to1:00 PM.