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Mediation FAQs

1. What is Mediation?

Mediation is a way for people who are having a dispute to talk about their issues and concerns and to make decisions about the dispute with the help of another person (called a mediator). A mediator does not decide who is right or wrong or tell you how to resolve your dispute.  In mediation, you can try to find solutions that make sense to you and the other person in an attempt to resolve some or all of your issues. 

While the goal is to try to work something out, you may decide it would be better for you not to come to an agreement. Sometimes emotions may be driving the dispute which make talking to the opposing party difficult.  A mediator can assist you in easing the way for communication. The mediator is there as a neutral person to help you focus on solving your dispute; however, the mediator is prohibited from providing therapy, counseling or legal advice.

2. How does mediation work?

When two parties are involved in a civil dispute, the best solution might be the one that they both agree is fair. This is mediation’s goal. In mediation, the two parties come together to discuss terms that they would agree to as a way to settle their dispute. The mediator guides the parties through this process, helps the parties understand each other’s perspectives, and provides advice on the bargaining process.

Unlike court cases and arbitration, where the parties may be bound by law to follow a ruling they don’t agree with, parties in mediation only become bound by what they agree is fair. The mediator cannot impose any terms on a party that the party does not accept.

Before deciding whether mediation is right for your dispute, you should take into consideration other aspects of the mediation process, such as how to find the right mediator and what kinds of solutions mediation can and can’t proffer.

3. Why Choose Mediation?

Parties might choose mediation over litigation for a variety of reasons. Mediation often offer the parties faster results at a much lower cost than hiring attorneys to bring formal lawsuits would. Additionally, mediation allows the parties to control the solution, rather than relying on a judge to make a ruling to which neither party agrees.

A party might decide not to pursue mediation when a compromise is not in the party’s best interest. When an injured party feels that the other party is completely at fault, the injured party may not want to negotiate through mediation.

4. Do I need an attorney at mediation for my divorce?

No. Couples are not required to be represented by an attorney during the mediation process. A couple can choose to have a mediator settle all issues related to the divorce prior to filing. Attorney Smukler will draft your settlement agreement for you to file with the Court.

5. What is the role of the mediator?

The mediator is a neutral party whose goal is to help the parties find a resolution to their personal issues and concerns. Any agreement must be reached by consent of all parties involved. Mediators will not take sides or give legal advice to any of the parties involved in the mediation.

6. How long does a mediation last?

A mediation can typically last anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days, depending on the complexity of the issues at hand and the parties ability to come to an agreement. If the parties settle all their issues then the settlement agreement can be drafted and provided to both parties the same day.

7. What is “pre-suit” divorce mediation?

“Pre-suit” divorce mediation is a non-adversarial alternative to divorce litigation. It is a voluntary process chosen by couples that have decided to divorce, but who want to avoid the financial and emotional costs associated with retaining attorneys and litigating their disputes. A couple who chooses pre-suit divorce litigation is choosing to work together with their mediator to resolve all issues related to their divorce and separation.

8. Are mediations in Florida confidential?

Florida law says that no one can disclose what is said at mediation or use what is said at mediation as evidence in court without the consent of both parties. There are only three exceptions to this rule. Allegations of child abuse, allegations of elder abuse and statements of intent to commit a violent crime are not confidential communications and your mediator (just like your doctor or lawyer) is required by law to report these types of statements to the proper authorities.

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