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Family Mediation: What should I expect??

Mediation is a chance for both sides to come to the table in a neutral setting and allow a third party person – the mediator – assist in helping the parties come to an agreement about their differences. The parties usually meet face to face either at the courthouse or in someone’s office, depending on whether the mediation is state subsidized or private. The mediator has been trained and certified by the Florida State Supreme Court to assist the parties during this process. They assist by asking each party about the issues and what they want to get out of the agreement. By encouraging the parties to identify what they want and what they really don’t need, they can move toward reaching a settlement. Sometimes, the agreement is partial and sometimes they can get a full agreement and completely resolve all of the issues. If the parties reach a full agreement, they can resolve their case and close the matter with the judge.

The mediation usually consists of the mediator and the two parties, on either side of the table. If the parties have hired an attorney, the attorney(s) may also be present during the mediation. The Mediator is either private or public, depending on how much the parties can afford. State mediators are always less expensive, and a private mediator, while more expensive, can usually do a better job of resolving the matter. Private mediators build their reputations by resolving the cases, and don’t like to leave mediation without reaching an agreement. State subsidized mediators are more reasonable, but if you cannot reach an agreement in state mediation, you run the risk of costly, time-consuming litigation. Sometimes, it is better money spent up front to have a private mediator involved in your case. In either instance, there will never be more than five people in the room when you are in mediation.

Additionally, mediation has some advantages. Mediation is private and confidential, so anything you discuss in mediation cannot be discussed outside of mediation. Like they say in Vegas, what happens in mediation stays in mediation. Mediation gives you a chance to make your own decisions about what happens in your case. If you want the children to stay with you every weekend, you can agree to do so. You can agree on pretty much whatever you want, with some very limited exceptions. Mediation is much quicker and relatively inexpensive compared to going to the judge in a trial. You can get a mediation date in as little as a month, where a trial date from the judge is a minimum of six months. Mediation has advantages.

Finally, mediation has some disadvantages. If you enter into an agreement, you are usually stuck with it. You may suffer from buyer’s remorse, but there are only a few exceptions to overturn a mediation agreement once it has been signed. It can be a big waste of time if one of the parties is unwilling to compromise. Some people are so sure they are right, that no matter what anyone tells them, they are going to see the judge. The agreement can be very one-sided, and extremely unfair to one of the parties. Someone in an abusive relationship may give up everything just to get away from the other person. Mediation isn’t for everyone.

In closing, mediation works for most of the people most of the time. It’s a great way to get two people to come together to try and resolve their differences in a private setting. The parties can be more informal and relaxed, while trying to figure out how to solve their differences. A trained, third party mediator may be just what you need to resolve your case. Mediation works so well, that it is becoming a tool for parties to work things out without even going to court. As they say in twitter, mediation is trending.

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