Mediation in Florida
The definition of mediation is found in Florida Statute 44.1011(2). The statute defines mediation as a process whereby a neutral third person called a mediator acts to encourage and facilitate the resolution of the dispute between two or more parties. It is an informal non-adversarial process with the objective of helping the disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable voluntary agreement.
The mediator is impartial and does not decide how the dispute should be resolved. Family mediation includes cases involving married and unmarried persons, before and after judgments involving dissolution of marriage; property division; shared or sole parental responsibility; or child support, custody, and visitation involving emotional or financial considerations not usually present in other circuit civil cases. Fundamentals of Mediation
Voluntary Process. In Florida, mediation is a voluntary process a judge can order mediation, and require the parties to near for a mediation conference, the judge cannot make the parties needed a mediator is prohibited from using any type of coercion to compel the parties to participate in mediation.
Party Self Determination. The parties themselves have the ultimate decision-making authority at mediation. The mediator is not present at a mediation to force the parties to settle or to direct the process towards a particular result, but rather to help the parties come to their own decisions about their own disagreements.
Mediator Impartiality and Neutrality. A mediator must be impartial. Impartiality means freedom from favoritism or bias word, action, or appearance, and includes a commitment to assist all parties, as opposed to any one individual.
Confidentiality. The purpose of confidentiality is to promote open and candid discussion and party self determination. A mediator is required to maintain confidentiality of all information received during mediation except where the disclosure is required or permitted by law. Additionally, a mediator is prohibited from revealing any information obtained during a separate meeting to any other mediation participants without the consent of the disclosing party.Mediator Injunctions for Protection Against Domestic Violence
An interesting fact, probably not known by many people, is that it is against the public policy of Florida to mediate injunctions for protection against domestic violence. However, once an injunction for protection against domestic violence has been issued, the court may enter an order referring the parties to mediation.Good Faith Mediation
Good faith participation in mediation is not required in Florida. Florida law does not allow sanctions to be imposed for failing to mediate in good faith. Most judges however, require the parties to litigate in good faith and to engage in meaningful discussions on the relevant issues.
Good faith means engaging in a search for creative and enduring solutions that meet the needs of both parties and the children, if the parties have minor children.Contact a Fort Lauderdale Family Lawyer for Help
Divorce is never easy, though an experienced and dedicated family attorney can help walk you through every step of the process and make it as harmless as possible. Whether or not you and your spouse can come to an agreement at mediation, it is always important to have a lawyer who will provide zealous representation. Alan R. Burton has extensive experience in all family law matters and is dedicated to protecting clients’ interests both in and out of court. Contact our office today for assistance at (954) 295-9222.