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Using Mandatory Mediation to Advantage in a Florida Divorce

In Florida, mediation is typically required in divorce cases involving child custody, visitation and support issues, as well as cases in which there is marital property to be distributed. The goal of mediation is to help the parties reach acceptable solutions without going to court. While some spouses go through the required sessions begrudgingly, mandatory mediation can be quite useful if given a chance.

Mediation can offer several advantages over taking a divorce case to trial:

  • It is faster — Once a mediator is selected, the sessions can be scheduled right away and might be completed within a few days or weeks, compared with the months that a trial can take.
  • It is confidential — Mediation sessions are held in private and the information shared is privileged. Spouses can discuss issues without fear their statements will be used against them.
  • It is informal and versatile — Once mediation begins, disputes can be isolated and dealt with individually, which is a way to prioritize and simplify them.
  • It gives the spouses more control over the outcome — In court, a judge makes the decisions, but in mediation, the parties can forge workable solutions and reach compromises.
  • It is cost-effective — The speed of mediation itself makes it cheaper. Mediation also can avoid many of the expenses associated with litigation, such attorneys’ time preparing documents and making court appearances that may not result in a resolution.
  • It lays the groundwork for post-divorce parenting — Mediation can be particularly helpful when children are involved, as it may foster a more amicable relationship between the parents.

The benefits of mediation are most achievable when the spouses are dedicated to using the process constructively. Here are some tips for an effective approach to mediation:

  • Get legal guidance — Each spouse should retain an experienced family law attorney during mediation to ensure they understand their legal rights and options.
  • Come prepared — Spouses should do their homework to make sure they have a full picture of their financial situation and of other relevant facts.
  • Communicate openly — Be willing to listen to the other spouse’s perspective. Also, refrain from interruption and confrontation.
  • Keep emotions out of it — Spouses should not use mediation as a forum for venting, even though upsets can occur. Emotions can cloud judgment, which can lead to poor decisions.
  • Identify your priorities — List in order the assets and privileges that are most important to you and those that you’re willing to concede. This can guide you and your attorney in negotiations.
  • Be open to compromise — Mediation sessions typically involve give and take. If a property division or parenting plan is proposed, evaluate its merits and propose tweaks.

At The Law Offices of Lawrence S. Katz, P.A. in Miami, we have wide experience using mediation as a productive means of resolving disputes between divorcing couples. If you are seeking a divorce or have been served with divorce papers, call us at 305-670-8656 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

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Lawrence S. Katz

For many years, Lawrence S. Katz has helped clients in Florida, throughout the United States and abroad. He has earned an excellent worldwide reputation for providing knowledgeable, quality representation in cross border family law matters and child abduction. He serves as counsel, co-counsel, consultant and expert witness.

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