The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) may help answer many of the questions you may have concerning mediation, including how the process is handled, costs, and the time involved. Please review this section thoroughly before contacting our office with any additional questions or concerns you may have about an upcoming mediation or how to start the process.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process that can be either voluntary or court ordered, and utilizes a neutral person (the mediator) who assists the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable resolution to their dispute. The mediator does not have the authority to make a binding decision—only the parties involved in the mediation process can make the agreement binding. Under Florida law, all matters discussed in mediation are absolutely confidential.
How long does mediation take?
Mediation can typically take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on the complexity of the issues at hand.
What are the advantages of mediation?
Mediation is generally less costly than resolving a dispute through the traditional court system since disputes resolved in court usually result in higher attorney’s fees and overall costs. Most clients also find it more satisfying to have input in resolving their issues rather than having a judge make personal decisions for them.
Which types of cases are eligible for mediation?
Nearly every civil matter is suitable for mediation, such as cases involving divorce, child custody, child support, and care of elderly family members.
Who participates in mediation (Husband/Wife or Mother/Father)?
Parties involved in a dispute participate in mediation. The number of participants range from two parties to as many as a dozen or more. If attorneys have been retained, they may also attend the mediation to advise their clients. Participants must have full authority to settle the case at the mediation.
Can I bring other people with me to the mediation?
Only those directly involved in the dispute should accompany you to the mediation. It’s important for the people directly involved in the dispute to be able to focus on the conflict without distractions.
What is the role of the mediator?
The mediator is there to facilitate a civil discourse between the parties and to help them find a resolution to their issues and concerns. Agreements must be reached by mutual consent of all parties. Mediators will not take sides, impose decisions, or give advice to any of the parties involved in the mediation.
What evidence should be brought to the mediation?
To facilitate the mediation process, please bring the following to the Mediation Conference: an updated financial affidavit, three (3) months of pay stubs or pay records and three (3) years of tax returns, Florida family law rules of procedure 1.285(d), and a breakdown of the cost of health insurance. This information may be obtained through your human resources, payroll or personnel department, invoices or statements from your daycare or before/after school care provider; or, cancelled checks showing payment to the child care provider, the value of real and personal property, copies of titles, mortgages, deeds and notes, and statements or bills from creditors, banks and/or other financial institutions that are in dispute, and any specific language you wish to be included in the mediation agreement, such as division of retirement accounts.
Is mediation required in divorce or modification cases?
Yes! The Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure require the parties to go to mediation both before temporary relief can be granted and before a final hearing (trial) can be held in the case. The judge has the power to waive the mediation requirements, but he/she is generally reluctant to do so unless there are special or unusual circumstances.
Is the mediation settlement enforceable?
Yes, a signed mediation agreement is a legally enforceable contract.
Can a mediator force me to sign an agreement?
No! Mediators cannot coerce or force any party to sign an agreement.
What happens if the both parties agree to settle?
We will prepare a written Settlement Agreement that is signed by both parties. This agreement can then be presented to the judge assigned to your case so that a Final Judgment, in strict accordance with the Settlement Agreement, can then be entered.
What happens if we can’t reach an agreement?
If a solution is not likely to be reached during your mediation, we may ask you to set a date to meet again. If both parties are still unable to agree to a resolution, we will explain the other choices you may have to reach a solution. After the mediation process is complete, you will receive a letter from Jacksonville Family Mediation stating that you attempted to mediate but were unable to reach a solution.