Part 2 – What Reasons make Mediation such a good idea for Family Legal Actions involving both Adults and Minor Children?
As pointed out in part 1 of this series, most jurisdictions in Florida require a mediation before a court date can be set for a dissolution of marriage (divorce), setting of child support and developing a parenting plan for parental timesharing for unmarried parents, and for post-judgment modification of alimony, child support, and parenting plans. While at first, this may seem unnecessary there are many good reasons Florida has found mediation an excellent precursor and even an alternative to a day in court. For, if a couple can work out their differences themselves and come to an agreement in a signed, marital settlement there will be benefits for all, the courts, the adults, and the children.
First of all the court benefit, for many years there has been a steady rise of cases for family courts to resolve and not enough judges or even time to hear and decide each one. By using a well-organized mediation system many times a marital, child support or post-judgment modification settlement can be reached which then requires only a judge’s overview of the document before his or her signature is applied to the order. This has tremendously reduced the Family Court caseload, a big help for judges and court requirements.
Couples, even though they may at first dislike the idea of mediation, more often than not find there are a number of benefits to working out their future outcomes by themselves without having to let a judge decide for them. There is so much at stake and a judge is just a person trying to make it all come out right. He or she can rarely know all the details and often will make decisions that seem unfair and are hurtful. When a couple can decide for themselves such things as division of marital assets and debts, the best way to share in the care and nurturing of their minor children, and how best to monetarily help when alimony is needed, the decision is theirs, not someone else’s. No one ever gets everything they want so compromise is usually better than being told who gets what and how to raise their children.
Additionally, benefits for a successful mediation include a much faster resolution as the Family Court caseload is backed up, often for months. Too, the cost of mediation is far less than the cost of going to court. And, when a case goes to court, the case becomes public record which can be viewed openly. Mediation is a private matter, not open to public scrutiny and the inquisitive interest of others. This also gives the parties a chance to “test the waters” in a safe, encouraging environment as nothing discussed or revealed is shared with the court unless a marital settlement is reached.
From a child’s standpoint, a mediation is a far better way for their parents to decide on their future than a judge who can never know the in-depth sensitivities and nurturing needs of each individual child. A marriage settlement created by a child’s parents can allow a venue for parents to set aside their differences when it comes to their children and develop a parenting plan that maximizes opportunities for children to spend quality time with each parent and when special events such as school or athletic performances, graduations, and weddings come along allow both parents to attend in a compatible relationship.
Children are quick to sense hostility between parents and the result can bring heartache and often adjustment and self-image problems in their future, even adult, lives. When problems arise as they often do in raising children, a mediated agreement allows for easier resolution without heated arguments between former spouses. Children often feel guilty that they were the cause of the break-up of their parents and/or that they should choose one parent over the other as a favorite. When both parents develop the parenting plan children can sense the love and concern of each parent. A well thought out plan that will take into consideration the age and individual needs of each child, assuring them that they are not to blame and are loved equally by both parents who have their best interest at heart can work wonders.
By and large, a mediation which results in a marital settlement or settlement for child support or post-judgment modification is a great way to help courts lessen their load, parents resolve their issues quickly, economically, and for themselves, and children be given the best their parents have to give in planning for their future care and nurturing needs. In part 3 of this series what to expect during the actual mediation process will be looked at. This will help you know what to do during Mediation in order to hopefully be able to reach a settlement agreement.