5 Reasons Why Mediation is Encouraged During Divorce

Mediation is often underrated compared to litigation when couples are in the middle of dissolution of marriage. Certainly, there are many situations where pursuing litigation is necessary. However, if both spouses are hoping to proceed with their case amicably, mediation should be an option and is often required by the Court. Many couples experiencing divorce may not be aware of the benefits of mediation.

Our Family Law attorneys at The Marks Law Firm are advocates for our clients and their children and we support mediation wherever possible.

Mediation is encouraged for the following reasons:

1. Cost:
In general, mediation costs vary depending on the rates of the mediator as well as the length of the mediation, but in almost all cases, the total fees charged are less than the cost of a Trial, not to mention, the emotional toll that comes along with litigation. Consequently, it is important to consider how much your peace of mind is worth.

2. Influence of Outcome:
Rather than depending on a Judge and his or her ruling in order to determine the resolution of your case, mediation provides each party with the opportunity to come up with possible solutions throughout that are more flexible than a judge is permitted to order. Parties are directly involved with decision making and can come up with out of the box solutions.

3. Welcoming of Pro Se Parties:
Even if you are not in the financial position to retain an attorney, you can still move forward with a divorce while consulting a mediator, who handles mediation where the parties are unrepresented.

4. Mediators are Expected to be Impartial:
While you may not anticipate every aspect of your case to be resolved without some conflict, your mediator will focus on helping the parties reach an amicable resolution. He or she does not choose sides.

5. Time:
Going to Trial in the process of finalizing your divorce means you are now subject to the Court’s availability, dictates and schedule. Choosing mediation gives you more control over how long it takes to reach a resolution of your case.

Mediation-Don’t Go it Alone!

The large majority of family law cases never see the bright lights and excitement of a trial.

Instead, most are resolved by the parties, and usually with the help of formal Mediation. As of January 1, 2013, a significant change to Florida’s procedural rules regarding Mediated settlement agreements has made more important than ever for a family law party to understand the danger of mediating without counsel.
Florida Family Law Rule 12.740 is entitled “Family Mediation” and governs procedural aspects of a family law mediation. Until the end of 2012, paragraph (f) of the Rule included a provision to protect parties who attend mediation without legal counsel. According to the old paragraph (f), if counsel of record in a case wasn’t present when the parties reached a mediated settlement agreement, counsel had 10 days to serve written objections to the mediator after being served with said agreement. This important protection allowed a party to save money by leaving her attorney at home for a lengthy mediation but still gave the attorney a chance to ensure everything was on the “up and up” regarding any agreement reached.

As of January 1, 2013, that provision no longer exists. The Florida Supreme Court has removed the 10 day provision from paragraph (f). This change could have serious implications on a family law party that does not show up to mediation prepared and informed. But alas, after reading this post you will not be such a party!

While the deletion of the 10 day provision seems, at first, to limit the ability of family law parties to obtain full review of a mediated agreement reached without their attorney present, that is not the case. All the deletion means is that you do not have the protection of an automatic 10 day period for objection. However, you can ensure that same protection by simply demanding that a review provision be included in your agreement before you sign it. By including language that gives your attorney a certain time period within which to review the agreement and object to any points of concern, you can ensure you have the same protection the paragraph (f) of Rule 12.740 previously provided. You can also refuse to sign any agreement that your attorney will not have the chance to review first.

Of course, you can always take the course of action that gives you the greatest protection–take counsel to your mediation so you can avoid unnecessary hiccups in the first place! If you have a mediation coming up and you don’t want to go it alone, contact the experienced family law attorneys at The Marks Law Firm to discuss your options.