What is family law mediation?

Solving disputes through litigation in Family Law, while often beneficial, can in some cases be untimely and costly. In proceedings such as divorce, child custody, child support modification and other family disputes, you may choose to use mediation or be court-ordered to do so. Mediation is an alternative to litigation in which a mediator, an unbiased third party, is present to help you and your spouse work towards a legally binding agreement. Mediation has a reputation of being both transparent and quick.  Tallahassee divorce attorneys know almost all contested actions in Leon County and the surrounding areas will be required to attempt mediation before proceeding to trial.

Benefits of Mediation

As mentioned above, mediation is often a timelier and cost efficient alternative to formal litigation but the benefits extend even further. When mediation is court-ordered, your mediation is protected under Florida’s Mediation Confidentiality and Privilege Act, which means your mediation will be completely confidential – unlike public courtroom hearings. Additionally, once a mediation agreement is signed by both parties, the attorneys and a judge, the document becomes legally binding and enforceable.   In all of my years mediating and litigating both before and after becoming a Tallahassee divorce attorney, I have only had one case where anything discussed at mediation was required to be disclosed later and it was related to whether the parties’ actually reached a settlement at mediation.  This was not a family law matter.

Often times, spouses believe that a judge is biased and that affects the ruling in their particular divorce proceeding. Mediation ensures that both parties will be in agreement over the final outcome of their dispute because they will have talked in depth about the issue with their spouse to establish a sense of equality between each other.  Depending upon the situation, we are often able to work with other Tallahassee family attorneys to settle a case without mediation.  But its often helpful to mediate with someone to learn more about the other side’s perspectives and closely examine the things that are most important to each party as well as each side’s perspective.

Most importantly, mediation is very beneficial to a family with a child. In family law litigation, spouses can become argumentative and spiteful towards each other which adversely affects any children involved. Mediation, being much quicker and cooperative, will often times be in the best interest of a child’s well-being.  It is much nicer to start your relationship as co-parents with a compromise as opposed to a battle.

Disadvantages of Mediation

One primary disadvantage of mediation is the potential for a loss of rights. Some individuals choose to attend mediation without an attorney and in doing so may, legally speaking, agree to an unfair agreement with another spouse. A mediator cannot legally advise couples during mediation – only an accompanying attorney can. It is in both parties’ best interest to have an attorney present with them during mediation so that each spouse can agree to solutions while knowing that the law would also otherwise support them.  The Tallahassee divorce lawyers at Liebenhaut Law will meet with you several times prior to mediation to ensure you and your attorneys have a clear understanding of the factual and legal issues involved in you r case.

Mediation Fees

If you live in Leon County you are under the jurisdiction of Florida’s Second Judicial Court. Family mediation, referred to as ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) is available to qualified parties. To qualify for public ADR, your combined gross income between you and your spouse must be less than $100,000. If your income is more than $100,000 you must seek private mediation. If you qualify, the cost per hour will be dependent on the total income shared between the two spouses. If your combined gross income is less than $50,000, the fee is $60 per three hour session. Similarly, if your combined gross income is greater than $50,000 but less than $100,000, your fee is $120 per three hour session.  Call us today for a consultation with a divorce lawyer in Tallahasse.