TAMPA LAW GROUP
WHAT IS MEDIATION?
Mediation is simply a meeting in which a third party, called a mediator, assists the parties in reaching agreements regarding their family issues. The mediator is neutral and impartial. Unlike a court hearing or trial, the mediation conference is informal, confidential, and non-adversarial. The mediation may take place in a private conference room with both parties present in the same room. However, it is more likely that the mediation will take place with the parties in separate rooms. These days the most common method of conducting a mediation is by Zoom with the parties in separate breakout rooms.
Mediation is meant to be an alternative means of resolving family issues. The goal of family law mediation is to assist the parties in exploring different options and solutions and to reach agreements that are best for the parties and their family. As a neutral and impartial third party, the mediator does not represent any one party and cannot make decisions for any one party. The role of the mediator is to help the parties communicate effectively, to identify the issues that are unique to them and their family, and to assist the parties in developing mutually agreeable solutions.
This is your chance to make an agreement, instead of leaving it up to a Judge that will know very little about you or your family.
Erin is a Certified Supreme Court Family Law Mediator. Additionally, Erin is licensed to practice law in the state of Florida as well as the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Michael is a Certified Supreme Court Family Law Mediator. Additionally, Michael is licensed to practice law in the state of Florida as well as the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
BENEFITS OF MEDIATION
Mediation is Confidential: One of the primary benefits of mediation is that it is confidential. Only the parties, their attorneys, and the mediator are permitted to know what is discussed during the mediation. The mediator cannot be called to testify in court regarding the mediation. There are a few exceptions to this confidentiality including child abuse, elder abuse, or if a party threatens to commit a crime. Because the mediation is confidential, the parties can feel open to discuss all of the issues and concerns regarding their family law case.
Mediation is Informal: Family law involves exceedingly complex, sensitive, and stressful issues and the court process can seem intimidating and overwhelming. Mediation, on the other hand, is an informal process that takes place with a neutral third party in a more relaxed setting. Rather than taking place in a courtroom, the meditation can take place at an agreed upon location, typically a mediator’s office. However, these days, the vast majority of mediations take place by Zoom. This allows the parties to participate in the mediation process from the comfort of their home if they so choose.
Mediation is Non-Adversarial: Mediation is meant to be non-adversarial. Though family law involves matters that are emotionally charged and highly sensitive, the mediation process is designed to assist the parties in addressing their issues in a non-adversarial way.
Mediation is Voluntary: Though the parties might be attending the mediation because they are court ordered to do so, the parties are not required to reach an agreement. The mediator is not a judge and cannot order that the parties reach any particular agreement. The parties are able to reach an settlement or not, at their own discretion and are free to leave the mediation at any time.
Family Law issues are often complex and emotional and every family is unique: Mediation provides a way to openly communicate retarding the underlying issues and concerns, explore all settlement options, and to identify creative solutions that work for each individual family. Mediation is an opportunity for the parties to make their own decisions rather than having a judge make decisions for them.
Mediation is a less stressful and more cost-effective way of addressing family law issues: Court proceedings are often lengthy and costly, often lasting months or even years. Mediation offers an alternative to lengthy litigation.
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND GENERAL INFORMATION
WHEN SHOULD MEDIATION HAPPEN?
Family Law Mediation can take place at any time. If the parties agree, they are able to schedule and attend mediation before filing any type of court action. This is typically referred to as pre-suit mediation. Once a family law case is filed, the court will typically require that the parties attend mediation before the case can proceed.
WHERE DOES MEDIATION TAKE PLACE?
The mediation conference can take place at the mediator’s office, at the courthouse or at an attorney’s office. However, these days the vast majority of mediations take place over Zoom.
CONFIDENTIALITY & SETTLEMENT
While court hearings are public, what goes on at mediation remains strictly confidential. No one else is legally allowed to know what the parties discussed at mediation except for the parties and the mediator. The mediator cannot testify in court as to what the parties discussed at mediation. There are few exceptions to confidentiality, including child abuse, elder abuse or a party’s threat to commit a crime.