Before you ever reach a trial, try using mediation.
Mediation is one of the best tools around. It is also called Alternative Dispute Resolution. And it provides a way for people to resolve problems without risking it all in court. It is a great forum for outlining differences, and it provides a safe and secure way to discuss everything openly.
Except for a few specific things, everything said in mediation remains confidential. Nothing can be used in court. And if the mediation has been court ordered, there can be sanctions for violating this rule. This includes paying costs and attorney’s fees. Mediation is always run by a certified Florida Supreme Court mediator. This person does not decide how to resolve an issue. Instead, the mediator is neutral and he or she helps the parties reach an agreement. He or she can facilitate communication, and helps the parties reach their own solutions.
Mediation is a great tool to solve problems.
There are many great reasons from which to choose mediation over a trial.
- First, the parties control the outcome. We have great judges throughout Florida. However, no one usually knows how to better solve matters than the parties themselves. It’s your life, kids, and/or your marriage. Why have a stranger determine everything?
- Second, the parties can be more creative than the statutes allow at trial. At mediation, the parties are free to come up with solutions that may not be “by the book.” They may distribute assets and debts in a way that is fine with them, but which may not be a method allowed in court.
- Third, mediation is much less stressful. It’s usually a relaxed atmosphere. Communication is encouraged. By contrast, trials are stressful and confusing. Testimony is offered, and courts make rulings on evidence during the trial. The court’s ruling is based strictly on the law and fact findings; and that decision may be contrary to what anyone was thinking.
I encourage mediation as a family law attorney, and I work as a licensed family law mediator. It’s been my experience that people are much more satisfied by reaching an agreement rather than having a judge tell them what to do. So before you run to court, think twice. Consider whether the issues should first be discussed in a private setting. And see if there are alternatives which you may not have considered.
It’s your case — try to solve it among yourselves.