RD- an actual child support client
"My case was handled quickly and with ease."
01/10/2014
RD- an actual child support client
"My case was handled quickly and with ease."
01/10/2014
“Prospective clients may not obtain the same or similar results.”
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The Mediation Process

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Family in need of attorney

The Gainesville Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. represent mothers and fathers in all aspects of family law proceedings involving child custody. For some, mediation can be a terrific means of resolving disputes in both a cost-effective and reduced-stress environment. In other cases, mediation does little more than add to expenses, create additional disputes, decrease communication between the parties, and increase conflict. The following is the second of a series of discussions on the topic of mediation in the family law setting. [to view previous section, see Family Mediation].

What occurs at mediation?

At the typical mediation, the only parties present will be the mediator, the parents, and the parent’s attorneys (if represented). The mediation session will begin with a brief orientation explaining the mediation process, as well as the roles and duties of the mediator. The Rules of Mediation are highly specific as to what a mediator can and cannot do. Unlike the role of a judge in a court proceeding, the role of a mediator is to facilitate resolution, by encouraging discussion between the parties and assisting them in reaching informed and voluntary decisions. Mediators cannot give legal advice, nor offer their personal or professional opinion, however, a mediator can provide information they are qualified to give, so long as they remain impartial and in compliance with the rules and standards for mediation. Most importantly, the mediator does not get to “decide” a case.

How long will Mediation last?

While the average mediation lasts approximately 3 hours, it is important to know that a mediator has the ability to end the session at any time, in circumstances where adjournment or termination is appropriate, including:

  • Agreement of the parties;
  • If continuing mediation would result in unreasonable emotional or monetary costs to the parties;
  • If the mediation entails fraud, duress the absence of bargaining ability, or unconscionability; and/or
  • If the physical safety of any person is endangered by the continuation of mediation.

What happens upon Agreement (or disagreement)?

If the parties are able to reach resolution on one or more issues, the mediator will appropriately document the terms of such agreement, whether partial or complete, and discuss with the parties and counsel the process for formalization and implementation of the settlement agreement. If the parties are unable to reach resolution, the mediator will declare what is referred to as an ‘impasse,’ which essentially documents the lack of an agreement between the parties.

What are some advantages to Family Mediation?

For some parents, the presence of a neutral third party to facilitate negotiation in a non-adversarial setting can be an effective means of resolving disputes. It provides a conflict-free environment in which parents can openly discuss their issues, and address concerns in an in-depth manner. Mediation also provides the parties with more flexibility and control over the outcome, as opposed to allowing a judge to decide for them. Further, because mediation agreements are enforceable, parents who are able to settle their disputes during mediation, often benefit by reducing the time, cost and stress associated with litigation.

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What are some disadvantages to Family Mediation?

Not every family law matter is suitable for mediation. For example, mediation is unlikely to be successful in cases where one or both parents are either unable or unwilling to communicate with one another. In addition, parents must remember that self-determination is a critical aspect to the mediation process, and that the mediator cannot make decisions for the parties; coerce or improperly influence the decision-making process; provide legal advice; or offer personal opinions, such as deciding who is right or wrong on a particular issue.

Who pays for mediation?

The parents participating in the mediation are responsible for paying mediation fees. The cost of mediation is dependent on whether the parties go through the Court-based Family Mediation Program, or use a private mediator. The cost and availability of the court-based program is dependent on the parties’ combined income, and can range from $40 to $100 per person for each session. Private mediators typically charge by the hour, and their rates can vary greatly.

Where can I find more information on the Family Mediation Program for my County?

Determining the mediation program that applies to your case will depend on the Judicial circuit associated with the county that your matter is currently pending, as follows:

How can I benefit from having an attorney to assist in the process?

Mediation is intended to be a conflict-free means of resolution. However, when there is existing conflict between parties, it can be difficult to relay information, or otherwise communicate with an opposing party in an effective or meaningful manner. An attorney can assist in the negotiation process by opening up lines of communication, and pointing out the benefits of resolving specific issues during mediation, as opposed to through litigation. Because the mediator must remain impartial and refrain from providing legal advice or personal opinions during the mediation process, having an attorney can be highly beneficial. Further, often time, an opposing party simply needs guidance or clarification on a matter, from the mouth of another, in order to better understand their position.