Mediation is an important legal tool in Florida Family Courts. In fact, in most jurisdictions, mediation is required before a divorce case or modification for alimony, child support, or parental timesharing can occur. The reason for this is that family courts are so backed up that many cases where parties are willing to work things out for themselves with guidance from their attorney and helpful compromise facilitation from the mediator can be resolved without having to go before a judge. A judge will review the resulting agreement before granting the divorce or modification, but unless there are glaring problems, most agreements resulting from mediation are honored. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution between the two parties with the help of a mediator who provides guidance and encouragement toward compromise. There are several types of cases eligible for mediation in the Florida Family Courts.
Divorce: As there are so many reasons divorce can be best settled through mediation it is highly encouraged and usually ordered prior to a court date being set. Mediation is faster, cheaper, and best of all allows a couple to decide their financial future and that of their children. Records of the mediation are not available to the public as are court hearings and judgments.No one party will ever get “the lion’s share”, especially in the division of marital property and debt (Florida is an equitable distribution, not equal distribution, state) so being able to decide “who gets what” is almost always better than having a judge decide for them.
Modification: Following a divorce, some types of alimony, or child support or parental timesharing ruling are eligible and often ordered to mediation before a court hearing can be set. If it can be shown there are material, substantial, or no unanticipated changes that happened with no prejudgment knowledge, a party can return to court to have the final ruling changed as in modified. Again, the reasons supporting a mediation for divorce are applicable. And, in many cases, a modification can be solved by successful mediation. In Florida the types of alimony with proven need which can be modified are temporary (this is during the actual case only so does not happen in a mediation), permanent which is modifiable in amount, either up or down and terminated if remarriage or cohabitation with non-relative by recipient, durational of time only and then that amount of time not to exceed the length of the marriage, and rehabilitative time only or terminated if conditions of the rehabilitation plan are not met or completed early. Child support and parental timesharing modifications must show extensive proof for the need of modification.
For a mediation to be successful, it is wise to use the professional services of a Family Law attorney. While it is true, an attorney costs money, the resulting benefits of having legal knowledge appropriate to the case usually gains a judgment with financial benefits outweighing attorney costs. There are so many ins and outs in Florida law surrounding family law decisions, it is highly unlikely a nonprofessional can be successful in attempting a case involving the need for mediation.