How does divorce mediation work in Florida?

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Most couples in Florida who decide to end their marriages look for ways to minimize the emotional turmoil that often accompanies the divorce process. One of the most effective methods is mediation, but not many people understand how mediation works or, more importantly, how it can eliminate much of the anger and recrimination from the divorce process.

As the word implies, mediation is a process intended to find a middle ground between two parties who are having a dispute. In a divorce, the dispute can involve child support, visitation, alimony, property division or any or all of the above. Mediation employs a trained and neutral third party to work with the divorcing couple to help them find mutually agreement solutions to their disputes.

Mediation is entirely voluntary. A mediator cannot, by law, decide any of the issues for the parties. Instead, a mediator may suggest an alternative method of dividing marital assets or a different visitation schedule when the parties appear to be deadlocked. A mediator can also help the parties understand how anger is driving one or both of them to insist on a solution that may not work well. Persons going through a divorce often find that they are able to share their feelings with a neutral party more easily than merely discussing them with their estranged spouses. The opportunity to have a candid and confidential discussion with a mediator may go a long way toward defusing the anger and hostility that often infests a divorce.

If a mediation is successful, that is, the parties reach agreement on at least a few issues, the mediator will draft a mediation agreement that embodies the terms of the agreement. Both parties will be expected to sign it, and it will become a binding and enforceable agreement subject to enforcement by the court. Most participants in mediation bring their lawyers to the mediation sessions and ask their attorneys to review any resulting mediation agreement.

Source: Florida Courts, "Mediation in Florida," accessed Dec. 11, 2017

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