Mediation Provides a More Civil Approach to a Florida Divorce
Florida residents have alternative choices when it comes to getting divorced. There is the traditional method of hiring attorneys and litigating every issue, which can be very costly. Or residents may decide to try alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation, which generally reduces the monetary cost, time, and stress. A family law mediator can help a couple achieve the best possible outcome for their individual situation. Mediation is far less stressful and may avoid the long, drawn-out battles often found in a courtroom divorce where a judge ultimately makes the final decisions.
The mediator helps the couple go over the areas of disagreement, including assets and debts, child custody, the parenting agreement and time-sharing schedule, and child and spousal support. Any specific matters or concerns that the individuals have can be raised. Most importantly, with a few exceptions, the parties can agree on creative and alternative solutions that the judge cannot. A Florida Supreme Court certified family law mediator will have training in family law and will confidently be able to guide the negotiations forward. It is important to note than even if the mediator is an attorney, the mediator cannot represent either party by law and not give any legal advice to the parties. Sometimes parties decide to try to mediate their issues before hiring an attorney to file their divorce paperwork; other times, they bring their attorneys to mediation so they can seek legal counsel during the process.
The individuals are in control of the negotiations and can voice their concerns every step of the way. The mediator simply guides the parties toward a resolution on each matter. And should any communication barriers present themselves, mediators are highly trained to get the negotiations back on course. While mediation can still be an emotional, tough process, individuals have to remember the alternative – going to court, expensive legal fees, and a judge who decides your fate – is a lot worse.
Divorce mediation can by completed in one session, or if there are complex issues two to three sessions can be scheduled with each session focused on a specific area, such as the parenting schedule. “Mediation not only costs substantially less than going to court, but also results in more relevant, fair resolutions,” said Ora Schwartzberg, author of the book Divorce Mediation from the Inside Out: A Mindful Approach to Divorce. If it helps, keep a checklist of issues that need to be resolved at each meeting to maintain your focus. Keep your attitude in check and remember the best interests of your kids and the next part of your life.
Many couples who have a good idea of what should be divided and can agree on co-parenting find that mediation is more of an empathetic, agreeable process versus the cold rigidity of the courtroom. Needs, wishes, and agreements can be voiced and decided on in a civil manner. Ultimately, a tailored divorce agreement will be finalized and submitted to the court for approval.
In Zephyrhills and Greater Tampa Bay, Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator Marcie Baker sees the benefit of couples divorcing in this amicable manner. At Alston & Baker, P.A. she successfully helps people solve their marital problems everyday. She also is an accomplished lawyer and provides exceptional legal representation in contested divorces.