Mediation And Family Law
NEW TAMPA FAMILY LAW ATTORNEYS
What is family mediation?
Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution. It is a process in which a mediator helps the parties in a case to reach an agreement. In Florida, family courts want the parties to reach an agreement on their own. The idea behind this is that the parties know the individual needs of their family and the parties are therefore the ones that should be making the decisions that are best for them and their family. In an effort to encourage this, family law judges will almost always order the parties to attend family mediation prior to trial.
What is a mediator?
A mediator is a third party who assists people in resolving disputes. The mediator is impartial because the mediator does not have an interest in the outcome of the mediation. The mediator does not function as an attorney and is unable to provide either party with legal advice. It is therefore important that you have an attorney present at the mediation to represent you and your interests.
What happens at family mediation?
At family mediation, the parties meet at the location specified for the mediation. Typically, each party is put into a separate room with their attorney. The mediator will begin each mediation introducing themselves and explaining about the mediation process and their role in it. The mediator will then gather the facts of the case from each party and being to go back and forth between the parties to assist them in reaching an agreement.
In the event that parties reach an agreement at mediation, the mediator will put the agreement in writing and each party will sign the agreement. The mediator will then inform the court that an agreement was reached.
In the event that parties are not able to reach an agreement at mediation, the mediator will inform the court that an agreement was not reached.
What is the cost of family mediation?
There are mediators that are provided by the court, through a program called Family Mediation and Diversion. If the parties elect to mediate through one of these Family Diversion mediators, there is a flat fee cost based upon the total gross annual income of the parties. For example, in Hillsborough County, if the total gross annual income of the parties is $50,000 or less, each party pays a flat fee of $60 to the Clerk of the Court for the mediation and if the total gross annual income of the parties is more than $50,00, each party pays a flat fee of $120 to the Clerk of the Court for the mediation.
There are also private mediators. This is a more expensive mediation option as most private mediators charge by the hour. However, despite the higher cost, private mediation might be the best option for the parties.
It is important that you have legal representation during mediation and throughout your family law case.
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