Some divorcing couples can negotiate marital settlement agreements resolving what they will do with their assets and money, future support and child custody arrangements. If they remain far apart on these issues or have such animosity that negotiation seems too difficult, mediation can sometimes help to avoid litigation in which the judge would decide these personal issues instead.
But there is another alternative. Frequently, couples in Florida in divorce proceedings are able to resolve their legal issues via the mediation process rather than through lengthy and emotionally difficult litigation.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a facilitated alternate dispute resolution (ADR) method involving the use of an agreed-upon neutral mediator specializing in conflict resolution. Mediators use techniques to enhance communication, reduce tensions and get couples through impasses in negotiation. A skilled mediator can often bring people to a place where they are able to come to agreement on some or all of the issues that otherwise would be left to the court to decide.
Florida mediations involving divorce or other family law matters use Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediators. Divorcing Floridians can end up in mediation either voluntarily or by court order.
Why has mediation become a popular alternative to a divorce trial?
- Mediation is faster and often cheaper
The idea of adding another process and another professional into divorce proceedings might seem like it would make the process last longer and cost more. However, the impact of mediation is often the exact opposite.
By trying mediation before court, spouses can potentially find compromises that work for their family and avoid litigation entirely. The time and money invested may pale in comparison to what it would have required to resolve the same matters by litigating.
- Mediation is private
Some matters are best kept private. For example, going to court to talk about how someone’s substance abuse disorder affected the family and should therefore limit their parenting time may be necessary for the protection of the children. However, such discussions in court can do damage to people’s relationships with each other and to their reputations.
Divorcing spouses can talk about important, but difficult factors, like adultery or domestic violence, in the privacy of a mediation session without worrying about their children or members of the public learning those details. Mediation is a confidential process, and only the final agreement signed by the spouses will become part of the court record.
- Mediation gives people control
When couples litigate, they try to convince a judge to rule in their favor – but both parties may be disappointed about the outcome. Mediation allows people to focus on what matters most to them while compromising in other areas. In cases where a specific outcome is crucial in divorce, mediation is one way for people to achieve that goal.
Considering the merits of mediation, it can help those facing divorce with a more positive path forward given their unique circumstances.