What Happens in Divorce Mediation in Florida
Divorce mediation in Florida is extremely common as most jurisdictions require a couple to attend mediation for a divorce before a court date can be set. Mediation is a meeting of both parties and their legal professional(s) with a mediator who will guide the proceedings by helping to keep emotions calm and finding ways to a possible resolution or compromising of the issues regarding the divorce or dissolution of marriage as it is now termed. If all areas of the divorce, including alimony, child support, parental timesharing, parenting plan, and equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities, are agreed upon, a marital settlement agreement will be drawn up by the legal professionals, and both parties will sign with a witness and notary. The marital settlement agreement will be given to a judge in Family Court, who will review it to ensure the final decisions are fair and legally correct before signing the final order.
It is important to note that a mediator has special training as a Licensed Supreme Court Certified Civil Mediator. They do not tell a party what decision to make or which decision they think is best. The role of the mediator is to explain the guidelines of mediation and then make suggestions as to how compromise can work. As Florida is an equitable distribution state, not an equal distribution state, the parties will already have worked out what their marital assets and liabilities are that must be fairly, not necessarily equally divided. For example, the value of a yacht will not necessarily be divided equally but may be given to one party and a vacation cottage to the other in approximate fair value compromise. A mediator can point out the approximate fair value compromise but make no comment as to whether the couple should agree or disagree.
For couples who are in a hurry for a final order or whose finances are limited, mediation is a good way to accomplish both. In Florida, the Family Court is usually backed up for at least six months. And, if you take your divorce to court, you will have a much larger legal bill as attorney fees will continue to pile up. There will be filings, motions, depositions, discoveries, orders to produce, the hiring of expert witnesses, and, depending on the case’s complexity, numerous contacts between client and attorney. Court costs will then be added as well. Mediation does have a cost, but it is minimal and divided equally between the couple.
There are other reasons mediation is a good idea rather than taking your dirty laundry to court. Mediation can provide the opportunity for a couple to work out the terms of their divorce themselves. When a divorce goes to the judge, the judge will decide alimony, child support, parental timesharing, equitable division of assets and liabilities, and any other matters pertinent to the couple. A judge doesn’t know the emotional attachment someone might have to a pet, for example, and award the pet to whichever party the judge decides should have it. In mediation, the couple can decide who should have the pet. The division of assets and liabilities will be done in the judge’s opinion, not the couples. Additionally, the court proceedings are available to the public by requesting them at the courthouse. The proceedings of mediation are private and available to only the judge, the parties, and their legal professionals. Here is where the potential of airing dirty laundry comes in.
If you are planning a Florida divorce, you will be wise to look for an attorney well-versed and supportive of mediation. While the attorney will not receive as much income from your case, they will be the type of attorney that truly wants the best outcome for their clients. For potential clients living in the Florida Counties of Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, or Orange, in New York or Washington DC, Board-Certified Attorney Grant Gisondo has over a decade of successful service. Though he cannot mediate one of his cases, he can help mediate for others as he is a Licensed Supreme Court Certified Civil Mediator. Attorney Gisondo knows the value of a successful mediation and will work with his clients to that end. A free, initial, in-office consultation is offered by Attorney Gisondo, where he will meet with you personally and answer general questions, learn how he can help, and share his costs to represent you. You can call his office, located in Palm Beach Gardens, at (561) 530-4568 to make an appointment. His office hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and for new clients on Saturdays from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM. Please visit Attorney Gisondo’s website at https://gisondolaw.com to learn more about his practice.