What is Mediation?
In most family law cases, a Judge will require the parties to attend mediation prior to any final trial. Many people involved in family law litigation have never experienced the mediation process before and may have misconceptions or doubts about the effectiveness of mediation. Essentially, mediation is an opportunity for parties to resolve their case on their own terms outside of Court. The mediator is a neutral third party, whose only job is to facilitate communication between the parties and encourage collaboration. The mediator does not decide who is right or wrong or make any judgments.
A mediation session is always confidential, and the offers made in mediation cannot be discussed in Court or anywhere else. The purpose of this confidentiality is to encourage parties to be open and honest with their offers and statements and to avoid people posturing for Court. Mediation sessions are typically scheduled to last a minimum of two hours, with some sessions lasting all day or even multiple days.
If an agreement is reached at mediation, the mediator will type the entire agreement up right then and there. If both parties are satisfied, they will review with their attorneys and sign. Once an agreement is signed at mediation, it becomes a binding contract, even if the Judge has not signed it yet. So, one very important piece of advice to remember is this: DO NOT sign an agreement at mediation unless you are one hundred percent comfortable with it. Once you sign, it is extremely difficult to have that agreement overturned. In order to overturn or set aside a signed mediation agreement, it is usually necessary to be able to prove coercion, duress, or some other outside influence.
The benefits of resolving your case at mediation are multi-layered. First, you know exactly what you are getting, as opposed to the risk involved in going to Court. Second, you are ending your case much sooner than it would otherwise end; it is common for a case to take a year or more to get to trial from start to finish. Lastly, you will save significant money in attorney’s fees by resolving your case at mediation. When a case goes all the way to trial, there is almost a guarantee that the extra time and effort your attorney spends in preparing will result in thousands of additional dollars in attorney’s fees being charged to you.
A graduate of the University of Florida for his B.A. And Law degree, Chris is an avid Florida Gator fan, as well as Pearl Jam, Nascar and Golf.
Read Chris' full bio