If you are about to begin the divorce process in Florida, knowing your options can help you make the right decisions. Mediation is one type of collaborative law that may offer a way to handle disputes with less stress and expense than litigation.
While mediation presents a number of general advantages, under some circumstances it can have negative effects. Your attorney can help you decide whether trying mediation would make sense for you.
How it works
During the mediation process, spouses meet with a mediator who facilitates the conversation. In this setting, they can tackle any issues they disagree on. Once they achieve a resolution, the their attorneys can work on drafting an agreement to submit to the judge for incorporation into the final judgment. Some couples may resolve all disagreements this way, while others may resolve some and proceed to litigate others.
Reducing costs and time
Because mediation contains far fewer formalities than the court process, many people save significant time and money. Unlike the confrontational setting of litigation, mediation aims to encourage communication and productive problem-solving, thus reducing conflict and stress. When there are children in the picture, they may also benefit from the lower stress levels during this difficult transition.
Having more say in the outcome
Mediation also offers the advantage of increased flexibility. Once you take an issue to court, you can attempt to state your position, but ultimately the decision remains with the judge. You and your soon-to-be-ex know the ins and outs of your circumstances, so figuring out an agreement is more likely to meet your needs. You also have the freedom to come up with creative solutions, as long as they do not violate Florida law.
When mediation can create problems
When abuse allegations are present, negotiation tends to be unproductive and may put the other spouse at risk. While mediation can still work in some cases and with a lot of effort, it may not be the best step for everyone. Likewise, if you suspect your spouse of concealment and deceit, you may want to go straight to court. The mediator cannot compel anyone to produce evidence or tell the truth, so you may need the full force of a court order for your own protection.