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Mediation Process

Mediation is an informal process that adheres to a few key rules to ensure that the process runs smoothly. At the beginning of mediation, parties will circle around a table and discuss in a non-intimidating and non-threatening way the rules and procedure. After that, the parties will break off and go into separate rooms with their lawyers. The mediator will go between both parties during the mediation. The mediator will facilitate the discussion and ideally help the parties reach an agreement over every issue in contention. As long as the agreement does not break any Florida law, anything agreed to during mediation can be binding. Unlike court proceedings, where little privacy is awarded, mediation is a confidential and private process, where the grievances and discussions are not added to the court record (unless there is open discussions of abuse or a crime one has or is about to commit).

Mediation is an informal process that adheres to a few key rules to ensure that the process runs smoothly.

If a party fails to show up at a court mandated mediation conference, they may be subject to sanctions and may be ordered to pay mediator and attorney’s fees. During the mediation, the mediator may adjourn the mediation at any time. A mediator may do this if they feel that the mediation has reached a stalemate. Additionally, both parties may bring an attorney with them to mediation  and is entitled to talk with them privately during the mediation. However, it is the mediator, not the attorney, who will dictate the tone and order of the mediation. Furthermore, the mediator may meet with either party in private during the mediation. This private meeting is called a caucus and anything said by a party during caucus will remain confidential. 

Choosing a Mediator

Within 10 days of the order of referral, the parties to a divorce may agree upon a certified mediator, other than a senior judge presiding as a judge in that circuit. Alternatively, the parties may agree upon a non-certified mediator, who in the view of both parties and the presiding judge is qualified by training or experience to mediate some or all of the issues of the case. If the parties cannot agree upon a mediator within 10 days of the order of referral, the plaintiff shall notify the court and the court will appoint a certified mediator.

Report on Mediation

“If agreement is reached as to any matter or issue, including legal or factual issues to be determined by the court, the agreement shall be reduced to writing, signed by the parties and their counsel, if any and if present, and submitted to the court unless the parties agree otherwise.” After the agreement is filed, the agreement will become binding if court approval is not necessary. However, if “court approval is necessary, the agreement shall become binding upon approval” and be made part of the final judgment or order in the case. Fla. Fam. L.R.P. Rule 12.740(f)(1)(2).

Failing to Reach an Agreement

“If the parties do not reach an agreement as to any matter as a result of mediation, the mediator shall report the lack of an agreement to the court without comment or recommendation. With the consent of the parties, the mediator's report may also identify any pending motions or outstanding legal issues, discovery process, or other action by any party which, if resolved or completed, would facilitate the possibility of a settlement.” Fla. Fam. L.R.P. Rule 12.740(f)(3)

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